Hands on with the ICEdot helmet crash notification alerting system

Today I had a bit of time to spend checking out the newly announced ICEdot system, which will help automatically notify emergency contacts in the event of an accident while on your bike.

The system is a combination of a Bluetooth Low Energy sensor that mounts to your helmet, in conjunction with an app on your phone.  When a crash is detected, it’ll automatically start a countdown timer on your phone, which in turn will notify your emergency contacts of your not-so-great fate, including letting them know exactly where you are.

Because this is much easier to show off in photos than text, I’m going to do that first, and then I’ve got a video that shows the whole process from end to end – including triggering it.

First up, is starting a session on the phone.  Just like you start your GPS device when you start a run – you simply start the app in the background and let it do it’s monitoring thing.  This also wakes up the Bluetooth Low Energy sensor.  As part of this it ensures that the app doesn’t just randomly trigger because you tossed your helmet in the backseat of the car before a ride.

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Next up you’ll notice the ICE sticker is affixed to the helmet. In the background you can see the app is running and monitoring for impacts.

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After an impact is triggered (in this case, he just whacked the helmet against his boot), the unit will trigger the app via Bluetooth Smart, causing the app to in turn initiate a countdown.  The countdown is configurable, so you can specify anywhere up to 2 minutes of delay.  You can stop the countdown at any time with a simple swipe.

This is to prevent any non-injury sustaining crashes from notifying contacts.  You know, like when you forget to unclip at a light and fall over harmlessly.  No need to broadcast that unhappy panda moment to the world.

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Assuming you don’t stop/override the countdown (because you’re lying on the side of the road in a bad state) – the phone will automatically sent notifications to your predefined emergency contact list.

You setup this list ahead of time, with who to notify.  Additionally, you also specify any medical related items to be aware of – such as allergies or medicines.  All of this information is then sent via text message to your contact list peoples.

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They then receive a text message formatted like the below.  The text message link includes the exact time of the incident, as well as a map and the allergy/medical information shown above.

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At present, the system can’t call 911 for you, due to the complexities in integrating with the 911 system here in the US (as well as abroad).

However, I’d think that if you put 5-10 close friends and family in there, at least one of them is going to be able to call 911 on your behalf in the event of a bad incident and get help to the right location.  If you have 5-10 friends, and none call 911 after they can’t get ahold of you (since most likely they’d call you first) – I’d suggest you may need to reevaluate your Facebook Friend Status with those peoples.

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To piece all of this together, I shot the below quick video with the founder of ICEdot, which walks through initial activation through to triggering and then viewing the status update:

ICEdot Bike Crash Helmet Sensor Demo

The sensor dot that you affix to your helmet today is using a CR-coin cell battery, but they’re going to be switching to a rechargeable unit that lasts about a month per charge and recharges via USB cable.

The only aspect I’m not super-excited about is the price.  It’s priced at $200, which, in my mind a wee bit too high.  I think that at that price it’s going to get far less buyers than at a much more reasonable $100.  Further, from a Christmas present giving standpoint, $100 is far more palatable to pickup one for the different cyclists in my family.  Whereas $200 adds up pretty quickly.  I understand the logic about it potentially being a life saving device, but, it’s still priced such that they reduce the number of people they could attract (and thus help more people in harms way).

Nonetheless, it’s cool stuff – really cool.  And I’m excited to see it come into the marketplace over the next few months.  They’re aiming for availability early next year (2013).

As always, if you have any questions – feel free to drop them below and I’ll get them answered for ya.

Thanks for reading!

10 Comments

  1. I was really interested in this, right up until I saw the price. I agree with you, $100 would have been good, $200 is too steep.

    Reply
  2. Ray,
    How does this attach to the helmet? Can you swap it from one helmet to another? For example, you buy a new helmet and get rid of the old helmet.
    I agree with your assessment on price. Too high and I doubt folks will buy at $200...particularly since it appears to be limited to iPhone (and only 4s and 5 at that).
    The market at $100 is much, much larger.

    Brian

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Aside from the price, another concern of mine is that if I'm in a crash serious enough that I can't call for help myself, would my phone survive that crash?

    Reply
  4. Sam

    £120~ for a device that requires my phone surviving the crash is a bit steep but still an awesome concept.
    On a side note: in the uk you could set it up to text 999 with http://www.emergencysms.org.uk

    Reply
  5. Yeah, they had me right up until $200. Is it really just limited ti iphone right now too? That would rule me out as well.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    I reckon a phone will generally survive a crash, if you get bumped off by a car or stack your bike it would have to be a bad crash to wreck your phone. The breaking argument could be used for ANY device that was with you at the time.

    Reply
  7. How is it that you can get a SPOT for < $100 but a little button with stickum, bluetooth, and an accelerometer costs $200? In bulk this is a < $50 device

    Reply
  8. Love the idea - really could have used it last Saturday when a poorly executed hairpin turn, coupled with a patch of gravel, led to a bone-crunching impact with the asphalt at 25 mph. I'm sure my wife will add this to my Christmas list (which is about how long it will be until my shattered clavicle heals).

    Reply
  9. Eli

    I agree with the rest that the price seems way too high when there seems to not be much to the device but also not sure I like how it prevents a false positive. Are you forced to remember you have this app running and dig out your cell phone when you think you may have triggered it? Does it sound an auditory alarm? Seems like it should sound a relativly quiet alarm at first but quickly get to its loudest setting.

    Even after it sends the text messages it should still sound an alarm in case you fell off the side of the road so passerbys may find you

    Reply
  10. Chris is out in Kona this week pushing the Ice-Dot product but also introducing his new sale option: link to indiegogo.com. If $100 was just right, but @200 was too high, right now there is an option for $150. I think the product is really smart. I've often worried about what would happen if I wrecked (again) and was unable to get up. Might be pricey, but i think that my wife would rest easier knowing that I have something like this. My only fear now is the battery life of my phone.

    Reply

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