Saturday, January 26, 2008

High Tech Kayak Helmet System

The collage is a first experiment with the trail-version of Corels PaintShop ProX2. This software offers an impressive amount photo-fixing and editing tools. According to Corel it's "an easy and fast way to make professional looking photos", said so, I can't call myself easy nor fast. Making the collage has taken me hours! And the kayakers in the surf in the background are not even manipulated, they are real. I do need a lot of practice before I manage to create a real natural looking composition "easy and fast"....

In the discussion after the incident with a (almost) lost seakayak in the surf zone at Vlieland last year, communication (in and between the groups) was a big issue. A conclusion was that -with all its limitations - in situations like this a VHF radio is indispensable. One of the people involved lamented she had her hands full with keeping in position, reassuring and navigating her group out of the surf zone and that it would be a hard job under such circumstances to get a VHF radio out of the pocket of the PFD and pushing buttons to communicate. The lady in question is of the innovative kind, so she suggested an integrated solution with communication- and navigation-devices integrated in the kayak helmet. A perfect idea!

Nothing is new in this world. I was reminded of this idea as I saw Dutch soldiers on a mission on TV. The Military industry is a hot spot for technical innovations. Soldiers are equipped with helmets with day and night-vision glasses, GPS-devises, ear plugs and microphones for the Radio. And because, just like a paddler should have his hands free to hold a paddle, a soldier must have his hands free to hold a gun-> most of these Military devices are designed to be used hands free. It should be little effort to make these military devices salt-waterproof for kayak use? A little design job will make them look a bit more sexy. For some inspiration I did a little Photoshop-job on the Felin-Helmet and made it a bit more colourful. With digital lipp-gloss and sun-tan I tried to make the soldier face look more happy, in this aspect my makeover is not quit successful.

I could have spared the effort: a new, stylish kayak helmet with integrated radio and microphones is announced to come at the market within a few weeks: the Voz Multy-link system and it offers promising specifications:

Electronics Features:
· Voice-activated, wireless two-way radio communication via 14 FRS channels with 38 privacy codes
· Waterproof (IPX7 rating -30 minute submersion at 1 meter depth)
· Bluetooth® Wireless Technology (Version 1.2) with profiles for stereo music, mobile phone headset
· NOAA weather receiver
· Voice prompted menu for user configurable settings
· Directional microphone with noise cancellation
· Waterproof, protective high-fidelity stereo ear speakers
· Patent pending antenna design increases range over standard FRS walkie talkies
· AA battery operation for easy field replacement

Helmet Features:
· Multi-sport design: snow, skate, bicycle and non-motorized water
· Includes summer and winter washable liners
· Lightweight high impact ABS shell with soft touch finish
· Multiple-impact 100% low density EPP liner
· Skull Clamp™ dial adjusted fit system
· Anti-Bucketing design
· Internal soft adjustable fit system
· Removable, protective ear covers
· Includes a head shape fit kit

Courtesy helmet pictures by Felin-industries and VOZ-Sports equipment.


Douglas Wilcox said...

Hans, that looks like a cracking helmet!

I have found the Icom remote microphone/speaker to be useful in rough water. We choose a channel before hand then all you need to do is press the big button to talk.

You can clip it on the BA strap near your ear/mouth so it is easy to listen/talk.


Hans said...

Hi Douglas!
Thanks! It think it's a very good suggestion to use this microphone/speaker set. I do also use an Icom-VHF radio, so that should work. You haven't had any problems with the waterproofness / salt-water resistance of the speaker/mic and the connection to the radio? I have read some negative opinions about that.
greetings, Hans