Biking reduces stress. That is, until you hit the pavement and start weaving in and out of traffic, pedaling alongside cars, trucks and a string of crowded buses. City cycling is an unnerving experience — one that’s bound to leave you perpetually paranoid you’ll be pummeled by the poorly-planned opening of a car door.
Arlene Ducao, a recent MIT Media Lab graduate, has felt a similar anxiety biking around New York City. To stay safe, she smartly straps on a helmet. Not just any helmet, however; one that reads minds.
Ducao has been working with Ilias Koen, whom she met at New York City’s School of Visual Arts. Together, they’ve spent the last decade focused on scientific data visualization, all while tricking out their bike helmets, rather recreationally, with different caps and lights to make it more visible.
MindRider is a helmet that’s undergone several “rounds.” The first? Translating the cyclist’s brain state to different colors on the helmet, similar to traffic lighting. Green is equivalent to calm and focus, while yellow represents slight agitation, and red equates to stress and a blinking red light symbolizes panic. The coloring is a way to present bikers’ mental state on the streets, according to Koen, although that’s just one way stress can be used.
The helmet is also capable of developing “Experience Maps” of cyclists’ geo-located brain activity. With these maps, MindRider is able to analyze relationships between the user and the environment, and assist other riders in charting a safer course.
“The data access of MindRider has evolved into something more useful for them,” said Ducao of the startup’s initial cyclists. “They could look up a map of all the users and all of the brain states and use that to plan their route.”
Knowing where you get stressed and others get stressed isn’t just helpful personally, however. The feature can also aid municipal government organizations looking to more effectively plan out bike lanes in their city. All data is customized to a user’s privacy settings, yet MindRider encourages cyclists to “add to street maps that show [their] community’s experience” and “share them with friends, other cyclists, even transportation planners.”
Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.