In early 2013, Marcus Weller, a co-founder of helmet company Skully, came up with a prototype of a helmet that features a heads-up display (HUD) with rearview camera, integrated navigation system and other features. The company started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for development, and eventually took in nearly $2.5 million, nearly 10 times its original goal of $250,000.
As per usual with fundraising campaigns, backers were promised first shipments of the helmet at discounted prices depending on one’s chosen funding level. But the promised shipment date kept getting pushed back, making many investors nervous. Finally, earlier this year, a lawsuit was filed by a former bookkeeper at Skully who accused co-founders Marcus and Mitchell Weller of using company accounts to fund their extravagant lifestyle. They allegedly spent the money on exotic sports cars and motorcycles, personal living expenses and travel, artwork and more.
Recently, the Skully co-founders were ousted from management and shut down the company as well as its Indiegogo campaign, stating that the company has been unable to raise additional capital and that they will not be able to ship helmets or issue refunds. The company plans to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, at which time it will instruct investors, vendors, partners and others how to file a claim.
This technology, however, did not die with Skully; there are other companies experimenting with similar functionality (after all, similar helmets have been used in fighter planes for some time). One promising product involves a helmet called Livemap, invented by Russian entrepreneur Andrew Artishchev. The inventor is not using crowdfunding, and the helmets, due to ship in the summer of 2017, can be pre-ordered on his website. For now, we’re just following the progress of this “smart” helmet technology.