specialized launches crash-detecting helmet tech
Simon Smythe on a motion sensor and app combo that summons help after an accident
Specialized is claiming to have “transformed the modern helmet into a live tracking device, crash detector, and safety beacon that connects you to help when you need it most.”
The headline new technology, launched this week, is ANGI, which stands for Angular and G-force indicator, a patented, helmet-mounted sensor that features a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope. It measures the forces transmitted to your helmet during an impact as well as the harmful rotational forces that occur during crashes when there’s no actual impact to the helmet. It will also send a text alert with your GPS location to your emergency contacts telling them you may have been in a crash.
But that’s not all. Up until now Specialized’s helmets haven’t used MIPS protection — the Swedish-developed ‘Multidirectional Impact Protection System’ that literally adds an extra layer of protection — a low-friction, inner liner within the helmet that allows the helmet’s foam liner to rotate independently (by 10-15mm) of the MIPS layer during an angled impact.
Formerly associated with and financed by Giro and Bell, who invested in MIPS technology as far back as 2014, Specialized points out in its press release that “MIPS is a publicly traded company on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. Giro and Bell no longer have ownership.”
All new-for-2019 Specialized helmets will either be equipped with ANGI or will feature an Angi-ready attachment point, and, in addition, all will be available with MIPS.
ANGI: how does it work?
You pair the device with a smartphone equipped with the Specialized Ride App (free one-year Ride Premium subscription with the purchase of an Angi-equipped helmet or aftermarket sensor).
During your ride, the ANGI sensor will detect the kind of forces commonly associated with a crash. If these forces are detected, the sensor will connect to the Ride App on your smartphone, sound an alarm, and start a countdown. If you’re OK, you just cancel the countdown. If you’re injured and unable to cancel the countdown, the Ride App sends the text to your emergency contacts you’ve listed in the Ride App.
ANGI also lets you share ride plans before you go out, with an option to provide your contacts with a live tracking link so they can follow you in real time.
Obviously ANGI communicates through your network provider and requires a signal for full functionality, but in case there isn’t one available, you set your estimated ride time before you leave. If you haven’t completed your ride within that time frame, ANGI will send a notification to your contacts with your last uploaded location regardless of whether you have a phone signal or not.
MIPS: star of the show
Independent testing consistently demonstrates that those extra few millimetres of controlled movement that MIPS enables reduce some of the twisting forces that would otherwise be transferred to your skull, with a literal knock-on impact on your brain. Virginia Tech, a leader in testing helmets for team and motor sports, tested 30 helmets earlier this year. All four of the lids that garnered full five-star ratings were MIPS equipped and only one MIPS helmet got three stars alongside 11 NONMIPS helmets.
While there are several types of MIPS layers available, each version meets the same safety standard, including the new MIPS SL, an ultra-light and, according to Specialized, supremely comfortable version of MIPS that’s available exclusively to Specialized on some of its top road and mountain helmets.
Specialized says that with MIPS SL it has essentially integrated MIPS technology within the helmet padding itself via a minimalist ‘watchband’ attachment system, which provides the same 10-15mm of rotation in every direction and offers the same brain protection benefits as other versions of MIPS.
MIPS SL debuts on Ambush, S-works TT, S-works Evade II, and S-works Prevail II helmets.
The ANGI sensor will alert your contacts in the event of a collision