PhiPal is a performance tracker for your helmet that could also save your life

Saphibeat co-founder Carlo Ciaramelletti nearly died while skiing in Italy. The day after his accident, another skier crashed in the same area and lost his life because he was unable to signal for help. Ciaramelletti knew there was SOS beacon technology that would help people call for help in the aftermath of an unfortunate accident, but Ciaramelletti wanted something more. He wanted a device that could track and improve an athlete’s performance as well as provide a safety net in case of emergency. His solution is the PhiPal, a helmet add-on that includes an emergency SOS beacon and a suite of sensors for both activity tracking and accident detection.

The core feature that set the PhiPal apart from its competition is its accident detection technology. Using a combination or hardware sensors and sophisticated programming, the PhiPal will automatically detect when a user has been an accident and will send a distress message with the person’s GPS coordinates. On the hardware side, the PhiPal is equipped with a 10-axis sensor that includes both motion and altimetric sensors to measure acceleration, orientation, and altitude. The hardware is always recording your movement and using that data for both performance and location tracking.

Not only does the PhiPal tell a user how far and how fast they have gone, but it also provides the user with the option to create a breadcrumb trail that other people can follow. Loved ones at home will not have to wait for the, ‘I’m OK’ phone call, they can watch the progress from the comfort of their home. Battery life is outstanding with two onboard batteries, one that is dedicated to the emergency SOS system and the other to a power- management system that optimizes battery life in an emergency.

On the safety side, the AI algorithm continuously monitors your body movements so it can detect anything outside the usual sport-specific conditions, for example, if you are rock climbing and fall 200 feet rapidly. In this monitoring stage, the device draws from your previous performances and uses that data as a baseline so it can discern whether this sudden stop is the result of you hitting the wall or hitting a tree. Once an accident is suspected, the device enters a pre-alarm mode and begins to scan the condition of the user. It can detect when a person is unconscious and will automatically send a distress call to a pre-determined circle of friends or emergency responders.

The PhiPal is available in two different models — a basic version with cellular connectivity for sending distress messages and a Pro version that adds on satellite communications for when a cellular connection is not available. The entry-level PhiPal is available for $99 via Kickstarter, while the Pro version costs $199. These prices are are in effect for the duration of the Kickstarter campaign. Once the crowdfunding is completed and the device hit the retail market, the Basic model will cost $149, while the PhiPal Pro will cost $299. Saphibeat expects to ship the PhiPal in September 2017.

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