Bell Helmets and 360Fly are looking to shake up the action camera world by joining forces to offer the first helmet with an integrated camera. The 360Fly camera shoots 360 degrees (clever name, I know), and will bring a host of other features your GoPro can’t touch.
For those of you unfamiliar with the 360Fly camera, it shoots in 360 degrees, which allows you to drag the video to see any angle you want. Here’s an example of Supercross rider Chad Reed riding with one (put your cursor on the video, click, and drag):
Pretty cool, right? This one isn’t the best resolution, but you can see some non-moto ones here that show more of the camera’s applications here.
In addition to having a camera in your helmet, and not sticking off the helmet like the one that allegedly contributed to Michael Schumacher’s injuries, this one has a few other tricks up it’s sleeve that will be rolling out with its release or soon after.
For one, it has both Bluetooth and wifi connectivity, which will make it not only easy to transfer pics and video to your phone or computer, but also allow professional, commercial, and other advanced users to live stream 360 degree HD content.
It also has a feature called AutoPilot tracking, which Bell and 360Fly claim “allows users to track and follow the main subjects in their videos, making it easy to create dynamic edits with the rider at the center of it all.” I reached out to Bell for clarification, and they said the lens will focus on where the bulk of the action is happening but not track certain riders.
They also say it will have benefits when it comes to safety, as it should pick up and focus on motion approaching from outside the rider’s field of vision. This all sounds like a lot of marketing speak for something that likely won’t be very noticeable, and will be one of the main things we dive into more as these see production and we get something to test.
Finally, and most importantly, the camera also has a Collision Avoidance Alert function, which will sense and notify the rider of oncoming dangers outside of the rider’s field of vision. The Skully and new BMW HUD helmet claim to offer a similar feature, but the Bell system will have to rely on sound instead since it doesn’t have a screen.
I have some pretty massive doubts about reaction times and loud, shrill noises, but we’ll have to leave that for a later discussion once some people have ridden with the thing.
The helmet will also have GPS sensors, so the video will have geotagged locations, as well as a barometer/altimeter. Bell say the battery will last about two hours, so make sure to charge it between track sessions or to wait to turn it on until you get to the canyons.
Currently, Bell has plans to offer versions of the new Bell Star and new Bell Moto 9 Flex. Prices haven’t been announced yet, but with those helmets coming in around $600 and the camera itself at about $400, it’ll likely be pretty pricey. Good news is Bell says the camera will actually be detachable, so you’ll be able to use it for other applications as well - which helps justify the price a little bit.