2015, University of Brighton
Motorcyclists are frequently exposed to high levels of wind noise, which can lead to discomfort, reduced awareness and permanent hearing damage. I set out to develop a solution and this helmet design is the result of my work.
This project received considerable recognition from the motorcycling industry. It was featured in multiple print & web publications, demonstrated at New Designers, London (2015) - and won a prestigious award by the Institute for Engineering Designers (IED). I was also invited to BBC Sussex Radio, to talk about the project live on air.
Find out below how I developed this project.
As featured in
Less than 20% of motorcyclists regularly use ear plugs and most are mistaken that their helmet provides adequate protection against noise. Hearing damage will also occur over an extended period of time, thus not always showing immediate effects after a ride. The combination of lack of user knowledge and a long-term cause, means this problem has not received the attention it deserves. Lenza One was developed to combat this issue.
“Lifelong, irreversible damage and constant suffering”.¹
Frequent exposure to these levels will lead to Tinnitus - a major cause of suicide”. ²
“70 mph will produce roughly 100dB”. ³
A variety of research techniques were applied, including literature reviews, contextual inquiries, interviews with occupational riders and a survey of 80 mixed riders. A lot of data was collected over the course of 3 months, resulting in many key findings. The primary research highlighted the behaviors and attitudes of riders, whilst secondary research identified the primary causes of noise.
At riding speeds, the helmet operates in such a way that it actually amplifies low frequency sounds. This is caused by the resonation of the helmet under wind turbulence. The sound is translated through vibration⁴
The exciting part - idea generation! This phase of any project is fundamental to discovering novel solutions. Proven techniques can be applied to help encourage new ideas to surface, whilst working in teams can dramatically improve the breadth of results. I employed a number of methods, including; brainstorming, storyboarding, Scamper, 6 hats and more. After refining the ideas to 50 or so, I used a NUF test and Pugh matrix to determine which concepts were best to pursue.
After refining ideas to viable concepts, 'sketch modelling' is carried out to obtain a fast, 3-dimensional representation of each concept. This is a great way to visualise ideas and provide a tangible point for discussion point.
Further models were created for early functional testing, to help validate the effectiveness of various ideas. My early functional models included a plastic shell, air blower and a decibel meter app, to compare different suspended surface configurations. Although the results are not definitive, they help to guide early research and development.
The design features a top-mounted suspended shell, which absorbs wind vibrations - the primary cause of harmful noise frequencies. The optional suspension mounts vary in stiffness, to compensate for different frequencies of vibration, to suit varying use cases (racing vs. courier). It also incorporates a series of dimples on the surface, to help to improve airflow and reduce turbulence (a secondary cause of noise). A third feature of the design is its elongated form, to further mimic the streamline teardrop shape.