Still awaiting your Skully lid?
Crowdfunding | AR-1 | HUD | 360 degree video
Apparently, a lot of folk are. These high-tech crash helmets should have been capping hundreds of heads by May 2015. But delivery has now been pushed back to December 2015.
Well, this is a little more interesting than a manufacturer having a few production problems. The issue revolves around the way the financing was raised. We're talking about crowdfunding, which is basically hundreds or thousands of investors responding to an appeal for developmental cash for a new project or service. You can think of it as alternative finance, meaning a 21st century way to raise money when, for instance, the banks and mainstream tech investors think you're a lousy risk.
To date, worldwide crowdfunding projects have exceeded $5 billion. But it's not really a new idea at all. All that's changed is that investors, or mugs, can now be found via the internet rather than knocking on doors. And that often leads to a rapid take-up of interest. And cash.
Back in WW2 Britain, many Spitfire fighter aircraft were effectively financed by crowdfunding (organised by Lord Beaverbrook). The Statue of Liberty (dedicated in 1886) was also financed by public donations/investment. And you can trace similar funding through to the Middle Ages, and way before that.
The difference today is that most modern crowdfunders won't think it much fun unless they get their money back, plus interest. They're generally not in it for reasons of benevolence.
In this instance, $2,446,824 was raised for the AR-1 lid following a "slick" promo video. And that's not a bad result considering that the target amount was only $250,000. As we understand it, 1,949 investors forked out anything from $499 (to reserve a single AR-1 helmet) to over $24,000 (for a 20-helmet distribution pack). Now check the company's website, and you'll see that they're still taking payments for the AR-1, but you won't see a brain bucket until around Christmas, at the earliest.
▲ Check the inset, bottom right. That's the rear view from the wide-angle camera fitted to the Skully AR-1 lid. We can see the advantages of this kind of tech, so are handlebar mirrors on borrowed time? Who knows? However, with this lid, you can expect all kinds of other data flashing across your visor, which doesn't sound so smart...
So what makes this lid so special? Well, it's fitted with HUD (Heads Up Display) technology plus a couple of rear view cameras. Some kind of optical gismo projects a beam into your eyeball, or eyeballs, and you get pretty close to 360-degree vision just by angling your noggin one way or t'other.
The lid is also fitted with SatNav this, and Bluetooth that. And the "on board" internet connectivity means that you can check your email or your latest eBay bids while you're hustling along at whatever speed your old heap can manage.
Far be it from us to suggest that there's anything dodgy going on here. But at best, this is a PR screw-up that's left a lot of folk seriously down in the dumps. And at worst it's ... well, we ain't going there (but you can go anyplace you like).
Beyond all this, crash helmets are generally heavy and cumbersome enough as it is. And the last thing you want installed is TV-to-go. But no doubt it's the future for an awful lot of people. However, maybe a name change is in order. Instead, of Skully, we're suggesting Numbskully. Whaddya think about that?
— Sam 7