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Active noise-cancelling system for helmets

DAAL Active noise-cancelling system for helmets

An active noise-cancelling system for motorcycle helmets has been launched by Norwegian tech startup DAAL at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan.

Noise is a big issue in helmets with damaging levels of up to 110dB at highway speed that can cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears) over time. Click here for more information.

Many riders have tried various earplugs to reduce harmful wind noise so they can protect their ears. Some also use active noise-cancelling earphones to listen to music at quieter volumes.

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Meanwhile, Sena was the first to introduce a helmet with an integrated electronic noise-cancelling intercom system.

However, DAAL founder and CEO Dag Axel Aarset tells us they are the first to offer a system for a variety of helmets.

Unfortunately it won’t be available as an aftermarket system to fit in your helmet.

Instead, Dag says they are approaching helmet manufacturers to have it fitted in the factory.

“Unlike SENA, our approach to the market is to collaborate with existing helmet manufacturers,” he says.

“There are many reasons why someone would choose one helmet over another (fit, styling, price, etc.), and we believe that the optimal solution for the rider is to have our system available for a wide range of helmets. This is what we aim towards.”

Active noise cancelling

DAAL Active noise-cancelling system for helmets
Speakers, microphone and battery pack.

Dag says their system is different to the active noise-cancelling systems we are familiar with in many modern headphones.

“Unlike generic noise cancellation headphones, our system is developed specifically to perform in the harsh and demanding noise environment inside a motorcycle helmet – and actually performs well for wind noise,” he says.

We have tried several active noise-cancelling earphones and agree that they can’t cope with loud wind buffeting.

Dag says their system will not block out important traffic sounds such as sirens and horns. 

“For us, it is all about giving riders the freedom to get out there, and enjoy the ride, without worrying about their hearing,” he says. 

Active noise-cancelling systems generate a reverse sound wave of the background noise and play it through the speakers to cancel out the unwanted, harmful noise.

It requires a microphone next to your ear as well as speakers. There is also a power pack in the back of the helmet. No doubt it will all add to the weight of the helmet.

While the system is separate to an intercom, we imagine it will be developed to integrate with a Bluetooth intercom.

Damaging noise

DAAL Active noise-cancelling system for helmets
Dag (right) with co-founder Sigmund Birkeland (Photo: Zeiner Media)

Dag is an audio enthusiast who has recently started riding.

“Whenever I got off the bike after a trip, I heard a loud beeping sound in my ears,” he says. 

“Not so strange, considering that motorcyclists are exposed to low-frequency wind noise exceeding 110 decibels when riding at highway speed. This is as loud as a chainsaw at a distance of one meter, and can result in hearing damage even at short exposure times. “

He and co-founder Sigmund Birkeland have invested all their savings in the project and Dag even had to sell his motorcycle.

They have since received both private and public funding to develop and test their first prototypes. 

Tests in wind tunnels and on roads have also given good results, and the technology is now patented. 

They aim to launch their product globally in mid-2020.

  1. I have lost some of my hearing, and wear hearing aids. How can I save what’s left? by the time mid 2020 rolls around I’ll be deaf.

  2. I have been searching and searching for this solution for years. Thank you guys very very much. I am a little worried about the placement of the microphone as shown in the helmet. Seems to me that the region at the back of the head may already be muted by the foam and head/hair. It’s my experience that most wind/wind noise comes from the front lower region of the helmet. Are wind tunnel tests performed with live heads or dummies? I currently ride with 26db sound filtering musician earplugs and so have to have music volume pretty high. Please let me know when your product will be available.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Ashley,
      Not yet.
      I suspect that because some European countries do not allow active noise cancelling headphones while driving, this may prevent them getting approval.
      Without European approval, we won’t see it here.

      1. Hi Mark. I know this is a well meant response but it’s unintentionally misleading, and can lead people to form an opinion that this kind of technology will never happen.

        That stops people asking for it, which stops people like DAAL developing a solution.

        The issue is your answer assumes that they are developing headphones. They are not.

        The law is very specific when it comes to definitions – they are building an integrated noise cancelling system for helmets. Not headphones.

        If their system doesn’t meet the legal definition of headphones the regulations don’t apply.

        Additionally the whole point of regulations is to improve safety. An integrated noise cancelling system would reduce fatigue and remove noise that is irrelevant letting you hear the important stuff (a horn, a revving engine, squealing tyres) both of which improve safety.

        Their is a legal doctrine called “The Golden Rule” that trumps all others (it’s where the saying comes from).

        Simply put it means that when you interpret a law or regulation, if your interpretation would lead to an outcome that is the opposite of the intention of the regulation, your interpretation is wrong.

        Therefore regardless of what European Regulations say in relation to headphones, if DAAL can demonstrate their system improves safety, no Regulation should prevent it.

        I’ve spent a decade developing technologies in other industries and sometimes a simple statement like the one you made can add years of legal battles to bring a technology to market, regardless of how innocently it was made.

        The sooner that technology like this comes to market, the better. It will both reduce hearing loss and increase rider safety for anyone that uses it. If regulations prevent either of those things then either the regulator is not doing their job properly, or the regulations need to be changed. This is very important and necessary technology.

    2. Hi again,
      I have now contacted these developers and they say they are still working on the project and promise us a Beta test unit when it is available so stay tuned.

  3. Do D.O.T. regulations currently prevent active noise cancelling from being used in motorcycle helmets in the United States? I have been searching for a while but cannot find any specific regulations that state yes/no on this question of mine.
    Any help would be appreciated!

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