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Ted Selker, a research scientist and professor at MIT’s Media Lab, wears the Smart Helmet he invented five years ago. What can it do? It can play music or audio books, with hook-ups for an iPod or tape cassette. It can record speech through built-in microphones and GPS, warning the wearer of a hazard on a given route the next time around. It can also detect important sounds like a fire siren to mute music when necessary. It has a Motorola cell phone with Bluetooth installed so a bicyclist can talk on the phone, hands-free, while commuting.
From the outside, the Smart Helmet looks normal. It’s a black, shiny BMX helmet designed to block wind noise. It has a chin bar with a built-in microphone near the mouth that muffles external noise, too.rn
rnInside, the helmet has a microchip PIC processor that controls everything from turning blinkers on to recording voice commands. A built-in accelerometer–a device that measures acceleration or its own motion–detects when the wearer gets bumped or nods his head, which then causes the chip to activate various commands.rn
rnFor example, the wearer can tip his head to the left to turn the left-side blinker on at the back of the helmet. If the wearer yells at an unruly motorist, the helmet will activate a horn at a higher decibel than the human noise.rn