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Plymouth Startup Hits the Road with Its Smart Motorcycle Helmets
The Quin McQ helmet has a built-in sun visor.

Plymouth Startup Hits the Road with Its Smart Motorcycle Helmets

After a successful Kickstarter campaign in April, the tech company kicked off production in May.

Company: Quintessential Design
Launched: 2017
Location: Plymouth
Industry: Smart technology

From phones to watches, TVs and cars, gadgets keep getting smarter. Now that includes motorcycle helmets.

Plymouth-based Quintessential Design just launched a smart helmet that syncs to a motorcyclist’s phone, making it possible to make hands-free calls and use turn-by-turn navigation with voice activation through Siri and Google Assistant.

After wrapping up a $100,000 Kickstarter campaign in April, Quin Design kicked off production of its smart motorcycle helmets in May. Orders are already pouring in from around the world. The startup expects to sell between 2,000 and 5,000 helmets within the first year.

Quin Design sold 329 helmets through Kickstarter. “It was a great way for us to get validation from the market,” says Anirudh Surabhi, founder and head of innovation. Since its inception in 2017, Quin Design has raised about $500,000 in seed capital.

While Quin Helmets aren’t the only smart motorcycle helmets on the market, their design, technology and safety features are helping the startup stand out. “There is an enormous need for safety upgrades in motorcycle helmets,” says Surabhi.

Quin is the first motorcycle helmet with an integrated crash detection system and SOS beacon. The helmets are equipped with a Quin Arc Chip containing sensors that detect force levels. If the force threshold is reached, the helmet triggers an SOS signal and sends the rider’s GPS location and a crash alert to the rider’s emergency contacts. Quin Design is working on custom local integrations that will allow the helmet to automatically notify emergency responders.

“The point of the crash detection is to get people [medical attention] within the ‘golden hour’—the approximate time frame that a life can often be saved or critical trauma reduced,” says communications coordinator Hannah Norling.

The SOS beacon also is designed to assist riders who need help on the go—if, for example, they are being harassed on the road. Riders hold the call button on the side of their helmet for six seconds to manually trigger an SOS alert, which sends the rider’s GPS location to their emergency contacts and nearby Quin riders. Once the beacon is triggered, the IntelliQuin Blackbox auto-records ambient sound, which can be used as evidence in a police report.

“We took a reverse approach and created the technology first, and then built the helmet around it,” says Surabhi. The helmet’s technology can be upgraded via system updates through a USB connection.

Priced mid-range, Quin Helmets come in three models with six design options. The open-face Quin McQ helmet costs $300, the full-face Quin SpitFire costs $350 and the Quin Ghost—the lightest smart helmet on the market—costs $540.

“Although the technology could easily place us in the market’s upper price range, we have worked hard to keep costs down because safety is essential,” says Norling.

Still in its early stages, the Quin mobile app offers safety tips, biker news and trouble-shooting assistance. Eventually, it will offer custom maps for weather and traffic, and allow riders to plan rides, create groups and share photos.

In addition to Quin Design’s Plymouth headquarters, the startup has a second office in India. While smart helmets will continue to be Quin Design’s main focus, the company’s team of seven is exploring ways to expand its technology to other industries and applications.

Says Norling, “We see Quin Design as a vehicle to bring smart, safety-focused innovations to market.”

The Quin Ghost is one of three helmet models.