One of the joys and frustrations of following the wearables beat is seeing a lot of half-baked ideas that have a germ of something exciting but haven’t quite been thought all the way through. You see a lot of them at Maker Faires — projects that are thoughtful and intriguing but can’t possibly scale to become more than science fair projects.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not great ideas, and one of the best was lurking at a table in a wearables meetup in Brooklyn this fall. The Mind Rider helmet is an insert for bike helmets that measures anxiety. The first round of the project will turn on colored lights to reflect the rider’s anxiety level as she navigates the streets; this is sort of minimally interesting, because you probably know how worried you are by surrounding traffic without needing lights to tell you,
The second round will be more interesting. Add GPS, and you’ll be able to map your anxiety: are you more worried riding on Avenue A or B Street, and it is better during commuting hours or the overnight?
But think about what happens when those results go social. It will be possible to overlay a crowdsourced map of perception onto an official bike map. You won’t just know that there’s a shared bike lane going down Broadway, for instance, but you’ll know that the one down Lexington is a much mellower place to be for commuters. That’s a pretty cool application.
Is this a product or a project? Dunno. But even if all it turns out to be is a project, it reflects a lot of good thinking about what’s unique and interesting about wearable tech, and was one of the best ideas of 2013.