French startup plugs smartglasses into bikers' helmets

December 03, 2015 // By Julien Happich
As you would suspect, the 2015 Paris Motorcycle Show held Portes de Versailles was, well, full of shiny bikes. But one exhibit that really caught my sight was the in-retina display plug-in helmet accessory that Eye-Lights co-founders Romain Duflot (CEO) and Thomas De Saintignon (CTO) were demonstrating at the Motoblouz stand.

The duo of freshly graduated engineers from ICAM Toulouse (mid-2015) developed and prototyped their Moto Display helmet add-on over the course of their last year as students, "the company is being registered as we speak" explained Duflot Romain.

The Moto Display comprises of a clip-on image projection and lens unit which is fed data from a lightweight Bluetooth-enabled module that sticks to the helmet.

"What you see is only a prototype", insists Duflot. Indeed, most if not all of the mechanical parts are 3D printed from plastic. The Bluetooth connection retrieves GPS and mapping data from the biker's smartphone, a dedicated application turns the data into clear traffic instructions displayed as a virtual images forming directly onto the wearer's retina, as if seen at a distance.

The beauty is that you always look in front of you, not in any tiny corner like it would be the case with the Google glasses, so you keep the road and traffic in check while your speed and guiding arrows are floating in a distance.

But this has been done before, hasn't it? Or at least something similar but fully integrated, look at the Skully AR fully integrated smart helmet, a real success on Indiegogo. So why not go for a full integration too?

Eye-Lights' CTO De Saintignon wouldn't want to discredit competition, yet he hinted that the helmet quality may not be up to the best standards. "As a tech company, we'd rather focus on the added-value our technology can bring and offer it directly to consumers than improvise ourselves helmet manufacturers".

"What's more, because the device is an add-on, just any one owning a helmet can use it. You don't have to depart from your favourite helmet and buy another one that may not match your taste or your look", added Duflot, "a helmet is a very personal item, and many bikers would be reluctant to change theirs".

Indeed, looking at it this way, the potential market for the Moto Display is much larger, and it could serve use cases beyond regular bikers (law enforcement or emergencies). Just think about automated licence plate-recognition from a built-in front camera on a police motorbike, coupled with an eye-level alert whenever the agent crosses path with a wanted plate-number.