Group rides can now progress from FUBAR to FUSAR, theoretically making everyone safer and better entertained.
A company called FUSAR claims it has a product that will make “any helmet smart.” It’s called Mohawk, a small device that attaches to helmets. It works like a GoPro that records video or still shots, but there’s more. It’s an intercom that connects up to 12 other riders. It works through your cell phone and the Cloud so you don’t lose touch when out of sight. It’s a GPS that tells you where to go and records where you’ve been so you can find your way back to a particularly fabulous road or trail. It plays your tunes. You can talk on the phone. If you crash and don’t tell it you’re okay it will send out an emergency alert to riding buddies and/or contacts. And it’s a black box that automatically saves the last two minutes before a crash, even if it wasn’t recording. Essentially though, it’s one device not many.
This product was introduced at the New York Motorcycle Show, which I attended in December. Their tiny booth was crowded all weekend with curious riders. The startup company is based in New York City, and the team is composed of self-described action sports nuts and tech junkies. For example, Chief Technical Officer Dan Bersak holds three engineering degrees from MIT and Yale, and has worked on 3D printing and ‘seek and destroy’ robots. His list of credentials declares he’s been riding for two decades.
Multiple prototypes have been produced and tested. One major investor (a powersports distributer) joined other investors and I’m told the team gathered $1.5 million in seed capital. Then, individuals who bought the Mohawk on spec raised over $200,000 through indiegogo.com.
Now the first round of production is on the assembly line, with plans to hit the streets this summer.
I learned about this because my best friend saw it. She herded women from the NY Siren’s MC to the booth. Everyone was so impressed they placed a group order. The fact that it can connect the lead, the tail, and others in between on a group ride was enough to sell the device. This is really going to change group riding. It can reach anywhere that a cell phone can connect. Friends at home can chat with you while you’re riding down the highway, and they can see your instant uploads. Nice for the ones you left behind.
Then I wondered about charge. It works with a Bluetooth control and an app that works on your iSO or android device. You put your phone on sleep mode and it becomes part of the system. It runs on wireless networks so is rangeless. Battery life is two to four hours depending on what features are in use and is rechargeable as you ride.
Everything is designed to operate while your hands are on the handlebars. You can turn it on or off, or you can let it run. It comes with a part called a BRC (Bluetooth 4.0 remote control). You can choose handlebar mount or wrist mount.
There’s a feature called a hot shot. You hit a button for a 15-second recording blast when you’re about to take a fun corner, then you can push another button and it gets uploaded to social media (if that’s your poison). Another feature allows you to hit a button and capture the previous 15 seconds (which is part of the black box), and capture something great that you missed.
Sensors on the device allow you to track how far you leaned in a turn. This is good and bad for bragging, because sometimes it felt further over than it was. It comes with an accelerometer, gyroscope and a magnetometer. (What’s a magnetometer?) And the camera takes 12-MP photos, has a 140-degree field of vision, and the lens can rotate 180 degrees, and you can control it remotely. An external memory card holds up to 64 GB.
Its G-Force feature is not something I’ve heard of before. If you crash, you have 30 seconds to tell the thing you’re okay. After that, it notifies everyone you were in contact with through the device, and your “guardian angels.”
It will pinpoint where you are via GPS coordinates and give emergency phone numbers nearest the crash site for people to call. This means your riding buddies will know exactly what ditch to look for you in. Which reminds me of a friend who went missing one cold night. Friends looked all night, but didn’t find him until morning, nearly frozen, with a broken back, off in a farm field where the road took a turn and he didn’t. He lost fingers and toes to frostbite, which would not have happened with a Mohawk.
The black box feature will lock in the last two minutes if it senses you’ve crashed, and will retain audio, video, speed, and more. Sometimes we don’t know what happened. This information could be extremely beneficial if one has a crash. Or is it a bit like Big Brother? What if you don’t want everyone to know what really made you crash?
I don’t often go down when street riding, but I’ve had my fair share of slamming into trees, or the ground, when dirt riding. I distinctly remember lying on the ground with the wind knocked out of me, then just lying there because I didn’t feel like moving, then slowly getting up, brushing the dirt off my clothes and looking at a bike that needed to be picked up—and then seeing a friend who backtracked down the trail to check on me. If I had a Mohawk, my first thought before I hit the ground would be to hit the OK button FAST!
This device would work equally well for snowmobiles that often take routes through miles of forest at night, a long way from a log cabin. It would work for bicycles on a long distance trip or not far from home. It would also be great for dirt bike riders. It’s waterproof, so snowboarders or skiers would appreciate it—with the wrist control, not handlebar.
So now while riding down the road, you can answer phone calls, play music, chat with fellow riders, discuss the deer you just saw, or where to stop for lunch. You can take pictures or videos, and upload to social media. You can call home if you’re going to be late. Or you can be like me with a paper map and no cell phone and travel where no one knows you’re going. But now there’s this incredible choice. This is really going to change group riding.