SINGAPORE - A smart bicycle helmet that was the brainchild of a Singaporean has won a prestigious international design award in Britain.
The sleek gadget, studded with LEDs that automatically light up when a cyclist brakes or makes a turn, won the Transport category of the 2016 edition of Beazley Designs of the Year, an annual competition organised by The Design Museum in London.
The idea came to Singaporean Eu-wen Ding while he was studying at Harvard University. "I was cycling around Boston and didn't always have lights. After a few close calls I realised I needed to do something about my visibility," he said.
Mr Ding, now 31, said he nearly crashed into people opening car doors and had his handlebars clipped by cars making turns.
The helmet, which is called Lumos, has a built-in accelerometer that detects braking and turning and activates red brake lights or orange turn signals accordingly.
It is made of polyurethane foam, weighs about 440g and comes in different colours. It has a rechargeable battery that lasts for up to six hours, meets both US and European safety standards and is weather-resistant. It costs about US$180 ($256).
A year after meeting fellow engineer Jeff Chen from China while they were both studying at Harvard in 2013, the duo co-founded their company Lumos to work on the helmet.
Since starting out three years ago, the designers have raised more than US$800,000 through crowdfunding website Kickstarter, and engaged a contract manufacturer to make the helmets.
About 14,000 have been shipped to the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific, including a few hundred to Singapore. Their helmet will be exhibited along with other award winners at The Design Museum in London until Feb 19.
"The Transport category is usually occupied with grand schemes for planes, trains and automobiles but something as simple as a helmet that helps cyclist to become more visible and safer is just as important," said one of the judges, design magazine Dezeen's editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs.
"Transport is not only about city-defining projects that are 20 years in the making; it's about the everyday experience of commuters as well," he added.