Remember that funky helmet we wrote about recently? The one that is foldable, super thin (16mm) and has a built-in chip that means it can be “read” by e-scooter apps? It’s called the Newton-Rider and, in a new partnership, it will work with Voi.
The Newton-Rider is the brainchild of a Danish team. They’ve come up with a soft material that uses “intelligent molecules” to absorb the energy of impacts, eliminating the need to have a rigid helmet twice as thick. There’s also a hard shell polycarbonate component which protects against punctures from sharp objects, such as gravel.
The helmet will be priced around £89 and will begin shipping in February (including to the UK).
The partnership with Voi means that an e-scooter rider will be able to simply scan the chip in the helmet while in the Voi app. The fleet operator will then appropriately reward the rider for wearing their helmet on the ride, likely with free minutes or other discounts.
Why is Voi interested? All scooter operators want to promote safety, but the shared mobility model doesn’t really lend itself well to carrying around helmets. Riders may be using the scooters ad-hoc, on a whimsy, or be travelling somewhere without room to store a conventional helmet.
Some e-scooter operators have begun offering helmets built-in to the scooters, but the idea of sharing headgear with others is not attractive at the best of times and pretty repugnant in these Covid times.
So, scooter companies are trying to find other ways to encourage helmet use. Bird does it with the fun “helmet selfie” feature in its app.
Because the Newton-Rider is foldable, its designers are hoping many people will buy one and keep it in a bag or pocket for the occasions they do decide to use a shared mobility device, such as an e-scooter. That’s what Voi is banking on, too. The company may even offer the helmet for sale through its app.
It’s a clever bit of kit and a forward-thinking partnership. We hope to see both in the UK.