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.
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
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.
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.