Bell is the first mainstream manufacturer to launch a helmet with an integrated camera. How will the rest of the market respond? (click to enlarge)
When the original Bell Super was released it was one of the most innovative helmets on the market. Unlike most manufacturers who were extending the coverage of their XC helmets and labeling them "enduro", Bell carefully considered the needs of the modern rider. Not only did they extend the coverage, but they made things like goggle retention and seamless camera integration a priority.
For the next version of the helmet, the Super 2R, Bell shook up the helmet industry again by introducing the first viable half shell with a detachable chin bar. While not a replacement for a true downhill certified helmet, the design offered enormous benefits to the average rider and has sparked a number of copycats.
Now Bell has unveiled the first mountain bike helmet with an integrated action camera. They've partnered with 360Fly, whose innovative camera is capable of capturing 360-degree panorama footage in 4k.
The 360Fly camera will be removable, to allow you to use it for other applications (click to enlarge).
The camera can also shoot conventional 16x9 footage and syncs to your phone via integrated Bluetooth and WiFi for quick file sharing. The 360Fly also has a built in GPS sensor to tag locations, a barometer/altimeter, and an accelerometer, all powered by a Snapdragon 800 processor (similar to what's found inside smartphones). The 360Fly has up to two hours of battery life and is detachable from the helmet, allowing it be used in other applications.
The built in WiFi and Bluetooth will allow you to review and share footage instantly on your smartphone. Hopefully it won't cause you to miss any epic sunsets (click to enlarge).
360Fly is also working on a number of new functionality features that they are planning to integrate into the Bell helmets, including auto pilot action tracking, which will allow users to track and follow the main subjects in their videos, making it easy to create dynamic edits with the rider as the center of it all. They are also planning a collision avoidance alert system that senses and automatically notifies the rider of potential oncoming dangers that are outside the rider's natural field of vision.
Live streaming will also be part of the package. The integrated camera pairs with its Micro-HDMI accessory base (sold separately) and is able to output a real-time full 360-degree HD video stream. There will also be a feature called highlight reel, which will act as an auto-editing feature that compiles a 1-2 minute highlight edits based on the specific sections of video that feature the most action.
The helmet shown in the images throughout this article is a prototype and Bell intends to put the helmet through rigorous testing over the coming months in the hopes of a retail launch later this year. We have high hopes for this concept and are curious to see how well the integrated camera lives up to the hype.
What questions or concerns do you have about this new design? Let us know in the comments and we'll do our best to find out more from the Bell engineering team.