There are few things more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
We were looking for the right wearable to attach our portable cooling technology to, and set out to explore if the time had come for a cooling helmet to hit the market place. For an idea to take flight as a product in the market, three important factors need to come together - a compelling market need, a design that has a low barrier to customer adoption, and technology that enables a price-point that customers are willing to accept.
Good highways and improved purchasing power has brought about the emergence of the 250cc+ bike category over the past decade. Better riding experiences and the ability to broadcast one’s exploits to all and sundry have dramatically increased the conversation around riding resulting in enhanced awareness of safety with the helmet finally getting significant rider mind-share as a must-have safety device! A major deterrent to wearing the helmet has been thermal comfort, and a customer-base that consumes two-wheeler accessories on a monthly basis is now more than ready to adopt any good solutions to this key and as-yet-unresolved problem.
One of the debates for us was whether to build an integrated cooling helmet or build a retro-fit cooler. If the time had indeed come for a cooling helmet, then the day was not far off when every helmet would integrate thermal control (how many people buy a car that doesn’t have AC?) which meant that an integrated cooling helmet should be on the roadmap, but should it be the entry product? One has to be sensitive to the time it takes for the majority of customers to accept the cost of trading their existing helmets for a new one. We decided to launch the BluArmor range with an easy-to-snap-on, retro-fitted-for-existing-full-face-helmets cooler. This significantly reduces the barrier to customer-adoption, and stays true to our belief that thermal comfort is for everyone!
BluArmor’s cooling technology mimics the human body’s approach to heat removal by using water, but with a twist – it cools a confined space, and continuously flows enough air in that space at temperatures below the skin temperature to accelerate heat removal. Think about it this way – if I had a fan next to me blowing air at temperatures lower than my skin temperature, wouldn’t I be at peace with the weather? The worst-case scenario for any water-based cooling solution is a hot and humid place where the air already holds a lot of moisture. Hence we ran a lot of our field trials in Chennai over the past summer and validated the technology through rider feedback and cooling measurements. We achieved 8-8.5 degrees of cooling when the ambient temperature was 38 deg C - keep in mind that the skin temperature is typically between 33-36 deg C. With BluArmor, water does most of the work in heat removal, and the electrical energy consumed is low. We are able to achieve cooling capacities of >20W while consuming <1W of electrical energy allowing our cooler to operate from a rechargeable cell phone battery making it ultra-portable.
Want to know what we are going to price our retro-fit cooler at? Let’s make this interesting. How much do YOU think people will pay for a cooler that attaches to their helmet? Drop me a note.
Do we have a winner with this product? The verdict will soon be upon us. We are opening for pre-orders on the 19th of January. Keen to know more? Want to see pictures? Keep watching this space for more updates!