The PLY smart helmet project on Kickstarter isn’t quite as feature-packed as other ones we’ve seen, but the pricing is much more realistic.
Here at CMG, we’ve talked about a lot of smart helmet concepts in the past few years; the best place to catch up on that conversation is this article. The helmets have all differed in their features, but most have some common functionalities: onboard communication systems, GPS integration, heads-up display (HUD) and a built-in camera.
The PLY helmet is able to keep the cost down because it ditches the HUD, which is arguably the trickiest feature to integrate into a helmet (and tough to get past some regulators).
The Kickstarter page has a long list of other features, though: a wifi-enabled built-in dashcam (with time and GPS stamp), filming 720p at 30 fps, with 120º viewing angle; a communication system that allows hands-free calling, with Bluetooth integration to mobile device; and a DOT/ECE 22.05-certified helmet, with dropdown sunvisor, fiberglass shell and removable liner.
None of this is spectacular capability. Most modern action cams will shoot better footage, and there are plenty of communications systems on the market that would offer similar functionality. The helmet itself has better specs than some other so-called smart helmets, but isn’t anything extraordinary.
The PLY helmet instead distinguishes itself on pricing. The Kickstarter page seems to list an MSRP slightly over $500 US when it comes to market (obviously if you buy in now, you can save on that price tag, although you run the risk of losing your money, like in the Skully scenario).
Considering you get a helmet AND a communication system AND a dashcam for that money, this becomes appealing for a rider who wants all those gadgets, but is on a bit of a budget. While it’s true you could add pretty much all this functionality to an existing helmet with an accessory camera and a comms system mounted to the shell, it could potentially cost you more money (depending whether or not you’re a savvy shopper), and you wouldn’t have the streamlining advantage of the in-helmet housings.
However, again, perhaps the greatest functionality offered by most smart helmets is the HUD, and that’s not available with this helmet.
Interested? Find more details on the Kickstarter page. PLY says it hopes to deliver helmets by next April, although, again, we’d caution you to be careful before spending any coin on a pre-order.