Forcite smart helmet leads the world
Aussie start-up developing world’s first smart helmet.
An Australian start-up is attracting investment for its smart motorcycle helmet, which it claims is a world-first technology that has the power to significantly reduce the number of motorcycle accidents and save lives worldwide.
The Forcite smart helmet has been on sale in Australia since September 2019 when the first batch sold out in a week, but has recently attracted the attention of leading fund manager Atlas Advisors Australia and university investment fund Uniseed, which have jointly invested in the product.
Forcite Chief Executive Officer Alfred Boyadgis said the Australian-designed and developed product was the world’s first mass-produced smart helmet.
The helmet has achieved ECE 22.05 safety accreditation, beating rival products from other countries to market, and attracting a total of $4.8 million in investment since development began, he said.
The helmet has already proven popular with riders here and abroad, with Mr Boyadgis saying the company has manufactured about 2000 units, with plans to increase production to 10,000 units next year.
That’s despite a hefty $1299 price tag, which is around 30% more than a comparable helmet, without the smart technology.
Atlas Advisors Australia and Uniseed participated in a post-sales funding round of $1.2 million to finalise production lines for a roll-out of the product in Australia, he said.
The carbon-fibre helmets are made in Taiwan, with electronic components sourced from the US and Taiwan, but all assembly is handled in Australia, Mr Boyadgis said.
The smart helmet technology is designed to deliver road alerts as well as visual and audio turn-by-turn navigation signals without requiring a phone, enabling riders to see or predict things before they happen to avoid danger.
“Our smart helmets have a unique system that can give advanced alerts much like K.I.T.T. from (TV series) Knight Rider as well as communications and camera systems integrated into one complete unit,” Mr Boyadgis said.
The Forcite helmet’s patented design uses peripheral display “RAYDAR” to sense everything from upcoming turns, to road speeds and hazards. A handlebar controller puts everything at the rider’s fingertips, so they can operate the tech inside the helmet without being distracted.
An automatic recording function with a wide field of view automatically records “dashcam” footage of multiple lanes without distracting the rider.
Riders can take phone calls, listen to tracks, or talk to other Forcite-equipped riders, with audio delivered in crystal clear form via 8mm thin, removable speakers tucked away in the helmet’s foam lining.
Crucially, the system can alert riders to hazards using special light patterns projected inside the helmet visor, like a car’s head up display. The visual cues help riders make decisions at speed, without taking their eyes off the road, said Mr Boyadgis.
He added that Forcite would be opening a Series A investment round later this year to scale up for sales in Europe and the United States, as well as conducting further research and development into in-bike computer vision and LiDAR systems that link with the helmet.
Executive Chairman of Atlas Advisors Australia Guy Hedley said it was a unique opportunity for investors in a $35 billion marketplace.
“Foreign investors via the Business Innovation and Investment Program are playing a critical role in supporting the Australian economy, pouring money into venture capital and seed stage companies,” Mr Hedley said.
“This is helping Australian grown companies to drive innovation and create intellectual property for new market-leading products.”
Chief Executive Officer of Uniseed, Dr Peter Devine said investing in start-ups like Forcite was positioning Australia at the forefront of disruptive technological developments including in industries like motoring.
“We are building the next generation of local companies that will go on to become regional and global market leaders, generating more employment and value opportunities for our nation,” Dr Devine said.
RACQ motorcycle expert Mark Hinchliffe previously reported that the Forcite helmet evolved from an undergraduate UNSW design project with co-founder Julian Chow. It followed CEO and co-founder Alfred Boyadgis “near-death experience” when he crashed his motorcycle in an oil spill.