After years of steamy software concepts and startup failures, a legit smart helmet has finally hit the market. The company (from Australia) is Forcite, and the helmet is the MK1S, which promises to not only handle navigation and media streaming but also bring a little AI to the party, too. I’ve been living with one for over a month now, and while the experience wasn’t perfect, it’s good enough to make me hopeful about this technology — and the company.
Let me start by saying that I am a racer who does not like distractions. I have reviewed a number of In-helmet communication systems Over the years, as well as many others motorcycle tools, and none of them made their way into my regular rotation. Surrounded by so much technology all the time, for me, commuting on a motorcycle is an escape.
Given that, I was skeptical I’d ever be truly enamored of a smart helmet that talks to me and flashes at me. I was surprised, then, that I actually enjoyed my time with her.
Unboxing and setup
The MK1S comes in a large, layered box, and looks very much like a premium consumer electronics device—as it should, given its $1,099 price tag. But before you can use this thing, you have to install the Forcite app which is available on iOS and Android.
Once installed, the app guides you through pairing your phone with both the helmet and the small wireless thumb controller that mounts to your bike’s handlebars. This part was easy enough. You are then required to put the helmet on until you are dazzled by a buzzing sound and billowing lights.
It’s an impressive demonstration of what this cover can do. The sound quality is good. However, my sense of wonder was crushed when, moments later, the app stopped midway through the tutorial. I killed it and tried again, only to see it hanging again in the same spot. It made me compelled to read the manual, even on paper, a definitively pedestrian introduction to this gadget.
The manual taught me a few important things, like the locations of the power/pair button, USB-C port, and microSD card slot, all tucked under the chin in a location you likely wouldn’t find on your own.
Second, the four buttons on the wireless controller aren’t exactly intuitive. For example, tap the unlabeled middle button twice to skip the current track and three times to skip backwards.
The biggest challenge, though, is deciphering the MK1S’ light show. The helmet communicates with you via an array of LED lights built into the chin bar, just below the visor. This is a much more accurate solution than the full augmented reality display it displays Skully AR-1 used, for example, but it also brings more nuance to the experience.
“Typical beer trailblazer. Hipster-friendly web buff. Certified alcohol fanatic. Internetaholic. Infuriatingly humble zombie lover.”