Fusar Rides in with Wearable Gear for Bikers at TechLaunch Demo Day

7/15/14Follow @jpruth

Sometimes seeing the world from multiple vantage points can help avoid trouble.

At least that’s the intent behind Fusar Technologies and its smart helmets for motorcycle riders.

Last night, CEO Ryan Shearman pitched his startup’s Guardian helmets at the seed-stage TechLaunch accelerator’s demo day, held a short trip from New York at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ.

Clifton, NJ-based Fusar is working on a helmet that combines visuals from two rearview video cameras into a heads-up display for the rider. The Guardian helmet uses an onboard Android computer system and smart glasses technology to give riders a rearview perspective that appears in a slim band along the upper edge of their field of vision. This way a rider can see if another vehicle is approaching from behind.

An avid rider himself, Shearman said the vulnerability of motorcyclists, who have limited protection in collisions, prompted Fusar’s founding last fall. The additional view lets riders be more aware of their surroundings without looking around or checking their side mirrors. “Taking your eyes off the road is the last thing you want to do on a motorcycle,” Sherman said.

The helmet Fusar is developing is not the only smart headgear for motorcycle riders coming to market, though. Skully Helmets, based in San Francisco, is working on a helmet that uses augmented reality technology to create a heads-up display with a rearview camera. British company Reevu also has helmets that offer rear-facing vision, albeit through a reflective optical device rather than via cameras.

In addition to the rearview perspective, Fusar’s helmet can connect with the rider’s smartphone to broadcast media and location-based data gathered by Guardian. The helmet can also detect the impact and location of an accident involving the rider, alerting the Guardian Angel remote assistance service. “Think of it as OnStar for motorcycles,” Shearman said.

The Guardian Angel service will pass along the rider’s information, he said, such as blood type and preexisting medical conditions to emergency responders sent to the crash.

Other features being built into Guardian include weather and traffic updates, alerts for nearby gas stations, and navigation assistance. Shearman sees uses for the helmets away from highways for riders of snow mobiles, dirt bikes, and ATVs.

A wide array of ideas were demoed last night at TechLaunch. Here is a look at the other startups from the accelerator’s latest class:

Animal Social Club  Social loyalty program that lets users collect and trade electronic rewards cards from brands.

Inspirity Developing a software-as-a-service that quickly creates a mobile-friendly version of a company’s website.

MobileArq Digital school directory for parents’ organizations, which lists contact information for other parents and faculty members.

Outdoor Exchange Online sharing community for renting outdoor equipment, such as kayaks and mountain bikes, from other members.

Retail Shopping Systems Mounting tablet-size screens on shopping carts to play video ads as customers roam stores.

SHIELDtech Panic device in the form of a key fob that works with a smartphone app to alert emergency dispatchers with the user’s GPS location and personal credentials.

As accelerators go, TechLaunch is quite young, offering up just its third demo day on Monday, and was developed in partnership with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Startups that graduate from the 16-week program get up to $25,000 each in seed funding. TechLaunch’s founder, angel investor Mario Casabona, heads up Casabona Ventures in Kinnelon, NJ.

Including this latest class of seven startups, the program has graduated 26 companies since its founding in 2011.

Completing the TechLaunch program was just the start for Fusar, Shearman said. He expects to have Guardian helmets on the market within 18 months, should the company raise sufficient funding.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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