Shark have released a full-face helmet with some ingenious technology – an automatic, integrated brake light system that requires no wiring or fancy pairing compatibility.
The Skwal-i3 was first introduced in 2015 and it too boasted a world-first in boosting rider visibility with the inclusion of four LEDs mounted on the front of the helmet that could be set to be either permanently on, blinking, or off.
The second-generation i3 builds on this with the addition of two LED brake lights which are integrated into the rear of the top vent housing and resemble, the makers say, ‘the sleek rear end of a hyper car’.
What makes it really clever is that the system does not require Bluetooth connectivity to an app or direct wiring to the bike, instead detecting braking forces via a triaxial accelerometer, a sensor that measures movement in three directions which are set at right angles to each other.
“We started from scratch for this project,” said Christophe Fontana, R&D Manager at Shark. “Based on security and high-end functionalities we left room for innovations throughout the 30 months of development.”
What has resulted is a smart brake system which will flash the brake lights three times per second under steady braking and five times per second under hard braking conditions. It could make all the difference in preventing you from getting tail-ended by fellow road users under heavy braking.
Fontana explains the main hurdles to achieving the optimum balance between functionality and visibility: “We had to combine the calibration of the braking functionality and embed the ‘intelligent visibility’ in the helmet, while also optimising the light output to be more visible and aesthetic than the previous Skwal.”
The rider can adjust the front LEDs to the same three modes as before, while the brake lights cannot be customised. Power is supplied by an internal battery charged via a USB with three hours of charge offering 12 hours use.
Sleep mode activates after two minutes of no movement and after 24 hours the unit will turn off completely to preserve battery life.
The tech continues as the Skwal-i3 also features a patented rapid, no-tool visor removal system that works by manoeuvring the visor up and pushing two buttons.
Meanwhile, Shark have developed a special way of fitting the lining to limit the amount of glue and other consumables used in the production process.
New ECE safety standards have required the inclusion of more safety rated padding but less of the plush comfort-giving foam which Fontana says adds to the challenge when creating a helmet.
To maintain comfort the company have developed their ‘Best Fit’ concept which involves taking a series of 3D head scans to fine tune the fit. It is the first helmet in their range to use this database.
You would think all of this is tech would come at a premium price but the i3 retails from £239, a cost kept low by virtue of Shark’s integrated R&D and production facilities.