Apex tech wants to make cycling safer

Apex Technologies wants to save lives, and they plan to do that by getting motorcycle owners to wear their helmets. The two co-founders made their case to a room full of innovators and business people at the April GAIN Luncheon and offered a vision of a helmet with enough extra utility and technological safety features that riders would want to put it on.

Alejandro Ruperti and Daniel Perez said that they were where they are now because they’ve lost loved ones to motorcycle accidents. “There’s no such thing as a seatbelt or an airbag for a motorcycle, and we’ve set out to try to find a solution.”

Apex’s approach is two-fold: first, the two have developed an app for smartphones that utilizes existing technology to register sudden impacts or stops and notify emergency services, and second, they have developed a Bluetooth add-on for helmets that provides audio functionality and the ability to answer calls while riding.

The X-1 helmet attachment is made up of a throat microphone, chosen because it cuts out the noise of the road, and an bone-conducting audio exciter, which allows the user to hear music or a speaker without sacrificing their hearing input, which can be essential to safety on the road. The two chose Bluetooth because they found that it was already a widely adopted technology in rider circles and they have made sure that the unit can be retrofitted to any helmet.

The unit is connected to the Safety Net app, which is designed to minimize the time between an accident and an emergency response by utilizing smartphone technology like text messaging, GPS and screen orientation technology to register when riders experience trauma, rapid deceleration or turn too sharp and send a distress call after a preset timer ticks down, even if the rider is unconscious. Response times vary, Ruperti said, and the biggest limiting factor is the time it takes for the person to call 911. 10 to 15 percent of riders have accidents on their own, he said, and on backroads riders can’t count on a good Samaritan to come along.

It also allows riders to log medical issues and allergy alerts for emergency services, program the app to ignore texts and send an auto-response, and map trips for review later.

“We’re trying to get users to wear their helmets,” Ruperti said. “The survival rate goes up 37 percent for riders wearing helmets who get into accidents and brain damage chances are reduced by 67 percent.”

Two competing technologies, he said, fall short. One only allows the phone to message a preselected contact and the other is essentially LoJack. Safety Net is useful across a variety of situations, Ruperti said, whether riders are out skiing or on an ATV. Once the two have a positive cash flow, they plan to transplant the technology into more use cases, like bicycle helmets.

The two have launched a $15,000 IndieGogo campaign to finance their first set of units and to gain traction with insurance providers by showing that there is an interest in the technology. The app will become available after the campaign, and they hope to manufacture as much of the hardware in the area as they can.

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