John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This crash detector will send GPS coordinates to the authorities if you sustain a severe head impact.
It must've been a barrel of fun determining the blunt force needed to trigger this bike-crash emergency device. Thwack! It didn't register, Bill, I'm going to have to hit you again. WHAM! That got it Bill, thanks. Hey, Bill? Bill???
The makers of this gadget, Tulsa-based ICEdot, say that it's activated only by the magnitude of impact that would require you to replace a helmet, anyway. And that's good, because it's a hassle having your headgear, whenever jostled, phone the authorities and your mom.
The idea behind the ICEdot Crash Sensor is simple: to provide a safety net for people doing potentially dangerous activities in remote areas. The doohickey, which is just under 10 percent funded on Indiegogo, attaches to a helmet and starts a passive, Bluetooth relationship with a smartphone. In the event of a head-smashing accident, it has the phone send S.O.S. texts to emergency contacts and the authorities, complete with GPS coordinates. (I bet Aron Ralston owns, like, three of these things right now.)
When help arrives the phone will already be displaying the rider's medical information to assist in rapid and accurate treatment. People who simply drop their helmets don't automatically incur a helicopter dust-off. After a hard blow, the ICEdot app initiates a countdown paired with noise and vibration; you can shut it off if you're conscious.
There is one big catch to this potentially life-saving device: Should you be in a location with no cellphone service, it doesn't work. So don't go around crashing into fir trees just because you think somebody will carry you to the hospital. Here's a little more info on how it works:
(H/t to Bikespeed.)