Everything is getting smarter these days, in fact, even my kids have managed to outsmart me. So it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that there’s a smart helmet for your outdoor adventures.
Livall released its range of smart helmets at the end of 2021 and they’re a surprisingly good offering. With the aim of making your wheeled adventures more fun and safer, there’s a lot to like too.
What is it?
In the most basic of terms, it’s a helmet to protect your head from serious injury if or when you come to a “sudden stop”. Where the Livall range stands out in safety terms is the fact that the helmets have brake lights and indicators triggered by accelerometer or manually.
Then you get to the fun bit: Believe it or not, there are speakers built into the helmet. So you can get your tunes without losing awareness of your surroundings as well as using voice prompts for navigation. It would have been better if they were capable of greater volume to overcome some of the noises of a roadside commute, but it really is an outstanding inclusion and so simple.
In terms of the helmet itself, while it’s a nice looking helmet with plenty of adjustment to maximise comfort: There really aren’t any groundbreaking items of note. So much so that if you don’t turn on the lighting and audio features, you’d be forgiven for not knowing it’s a “smart” device when you use it.
There are plenty of vents for airflow and padding to keep the comfort comfortable for just about any user, with the typical banding and adjustability of the straps (which are also padded) to ensure a good fit for the user. This includes a “dial” on the rear which adjusts an internal headband for the best possible fit and comfort.
It’s not all about the helmet though, there’s a really cool little remote controller available too. The remote pairs with the helmet and is designed to mount to the handlebars of a bike or scooter, allowing you to indicate — in the same way a car or motorbike would — your intentions on the road. If you’re listening to music, wanting to use your voice assistant or other phone features – the controller also has a button to activate the voice assistant on your phone or take a photo, although testing showed this can be somewhat delayed so a split second capture just won’t happen.
The battery life varies wildly depending on the features you’re using and how heavily you use them. If you’re constantly listening to music or podcasts, using the remote controller the battery life will deplete quickly. On paper at least, there are about 10 hours of use for lights only and somewhere around half of that if you’re using the speakers the whole time. I found the life to be between 4.5 and 6 hours if you’re using the lighting. For me, that’s enough to go on a couple of good rides with my daughter with some battery life to spare. If you’re not sure, when you turn the helmet on the lights give you a battery status indication.
Outside of the lack of volume in a noisy area, this is my other main issue with the smart helmet: Another proprietary charger. It’s really frustrating as a user who has invested in hardware that has a single charging interface (USB-C) to have a continual stream of devices coming, which I would potentially like, which have a proprietary charger.
There are a couple of really useful features on the Livall BH60SE Neo that are worth a mention. First and as a flow on from the mention of battery life and indication is the auto-off feature. This feature can be turned on and off within the app easily. After 20 minutes of no movement from the helmet, it will simply turn itself off to save battery.
We already mentioned the speakers, but there’s another neat little trick in play. There are wind-proof — well, wind shielded; you still get some noise — in the mic so you can use the mic and speakers as a walkie talkie or, to make phone calls while you’re on your bike, scooter or skates.
If you’re a regular rider who parks their bike outside a cafe then you’ll know, or know someone who has suffered the pain of a stolen helmet or bike. The anti-loss feature is fantastic to avoid this, by simply keeping your helmet on and the app connected if the helmet moves out of range from the phone then the helmet sounds an alarm as does your app.
The app – It’s functional but not yet mature
The app is really simple to use and the instructions on connecting devices are very easy to follow. There are a number of options to record your exercise data and there’s a Strava-like feed that you can explore with other people’s workouts. The issue I have with the app is that you must leave it running as a foreground app otherwise you won’t be able to record your rides. Grand scheme that’s not a huge drama given the plethora of ways to record physical activities these days. It’s also nothing that can’t be resolved with an app update in the future, but it does contribute to a feeling of new development and upgrades that are needed.
Is it worth the $229.00 price tag?
This is pretty subjective, but the feature set and bonuses of a helmet like this do add a lot of value. If you’re a casual weekend rider who already has a helmet then probably not. But there is most definitely a market for a smart helmet like this. I could see myself using one regularly if I was commuting by bike or scooter to the office, or regularly riding in groups. Like any helmet, if you have a big crash where your head is impacted it’s advised to get a new helmet. So there is always a bit of risk there, but from personal experience, it’s better to spend the money on good head protection and walk away — albeit with a headache — from a sizable crash.
As you can see from the images, with the testing time I can honestly say that the smart helmet experience is one that is worth investigating. While it’s not cheap, it does add a feel to your activities and functions (phone calls and walkie talkie) that make it more than just a helmet, it’s a creature comfort that once people have used it; they’ll struggle to go back.
Due to hygiene, the unit is not being requested for return.