Hands up for all those who at one time have knocked their go pro off the top of their helmets when getting in to the chairlift during wintersports. I am certainly one of them. The Forcite Alpine Helmet will certainly put an end to that. The Kickstarter project from down under brings 4K quality at 30fps , (1080 @ 60fps and 720 at 120 fps (check what this al means here)) into your helmet. So that will come in handy. It will record everything you’re looking at in UHD. And judging from the description on the kickstarter page, they have thought out the best way to acces controls, and they have added an auto-edit function to the companion smartphone app. Also a feature we’re seeing more and more, for example in the TomTom Bandit and Sony AV200 and Sony X1000V. But is it more than helmet shaped camera?
Forcite Alpine features
The Forcite boasts a number of other cool functions. First of all, it will record a plethora of gps data you could probably also add to your movie. Looking at the project I am not sure if they are easily added to the video, but I would suppose so.
Besides that there is a helmet to helmet communication possibility. You connect with your buddy also wearing the Forcite, and you can communicatie with them easily. Max distance of this communication is 200 meters and you can connect with up to two other people.
Wireless audio is integrated within the helmet, connecting to your smartphone, streaming music to your ears and enabling the taking of calls on the run. All the tech is tucked away neatly in one mini computer that is replaceable, so that if you do damage the helmet you can change the shell and you don’t need to change the complete helmet.
Which brings us to the helmet part of the helmet, in other words, is it a good helmet? There’s a standard EPS liner (so after a serious crash you will need to change the helmet. The ABS outer shell is a standard good quality material as well. (For helmet tech check here (Dutch).) So those bases are covered.
The set up in itself is really good. But I do question a number of things. The first is that an integrated camera, while handy and easy to use, does limit the possibilities of filming images to just one shot: POV. That means that your movies will be, well, probably a bit dull. But that’s just my opinion. Good edits generally have a variety of shots and angles, and that is just not very probable with this set up.
If you do prefer ease of use and are happy with a one-dimensional approach to your movie, this is a great option. And the other integrated features seem to be logical additions to that. However, most of these features (tracking you ride, playing music, taking calls) are covered by basic functionalities of your smartphone in combination with a head set. Some helmets (such as the Giro Combyn) offer pockets for integrated headsets for ease of use.
Exception to the Forcite Alpine functionalities you could find in a smartphone is the 400 Lumen trail light or “head” light if you will. That could be a cool option if you dare to head down the slopes in the dark or if you’re caught in the dusk going down after the last lift of the day has taken you up. I’d love to have that on/in my mountainbike helmet.
So cool stuff galore in this helmet, but I would not see this helmet as a good alternative for an action cam. More so because you can only use this for your wintersports activities.
I always like new ideas, I love innovation and because of that, this helmet excites me. But when I get passed my excitement I am not really that impressed. I wouldn’t buy this helmet. It will retail for around $ 800 and that is just really steep. It’s not versatile enough, and doesn’t really offer real kick ass options. And, admittedly, it is a matter of taste, but I don’t think it is very pretty.
Having said that, I do think this is the direction helmets will continue to develop towards. More relevant functionalities seamlessly integrated into the helmet. I am looking forward to the first joint venture between a tech brand (such as Garmin or TomTom) and a helmet manufacturer. I think producing an integrated cam is a good idea. but it shouldn’t be fixed. You should be able to slide it out of the helmet so that you can use it in a variety of ways.
Furthermore, instead of developing native software and building hardware integrated into the helmet, I would look to making most of the smartphone connectivity and using the great third party software/apps of the major smartphone platforms to add to the user experience of the helmet.
So the Forcite Alpine is a step towards the future of helmets, but the future is not here yet.