Telstra and Arenberg develop 5G bike helmet prototype

Telstra's latest 5G connected prototype has been designed with the safety of cyclists in mind.

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Image: ZDNet/Aimee Chanthadavong

Telstra and Sydney-based cycling brand Arenberg have teamed up to develop a 5G connected helmet prototype designed to improve on-road safety for cyclists.

Using Arenberg's soon-to-be-launched helmet, which features live video streaming capabilities, as the hardware, Telstra was able to develop a slew of safety applications. These include a road safety alert system to warn cyclists about potential road blockages, collision detection system, car door alert system, and a fixed camera alert system that acts as an "enhanced sensing capability" to detect road hazards.

The prototype also allows cyclists to share their ride with other users by streaming it in real time as well as enable remote coaching. For this, Telstra overlayed the application with Internet of Things data such as a cyclist's heart rate, speed, and power input.

"What we've done here as a prototype is connect [the helmet] to a phone, that phone is a 5G phone, and video streaming via Wi-Fi to that phone, and then we're on-forwarding that to a video server that is running in the cloud," Telstra Labs innovation lead Todd Essery said.

"That video server can then distribute that video as needed, so we have streaming stuff … with the IoT data. The video server also sends it to a video analytics system that's running analytics … one of them being the car door detection. That sends alert to our V2X platform, which is our cooperative transport platform … and that's pushing those alerts down [to the cyclist]."

As part of the developing the car door alert system, Essery highlighted that Telstra had to build a machine learning model in-house.

"We had to start from scratch and train an AI model to understand what a car door looks like. That meant many, many hours of opening and closing a car door and recording it … we then had to take these videos, annotate them to train the models … and marking here's a door, here's a car," he said.

Read more: How a connected motorcycle could save thousands of lives (TechRepublic)

Essery explained the helmet prototype is an extension of previous vehicle connectivity trials that Telstra has been running on its vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology since 2016. Some of the previous works were trials with Lexus and the Victorian government.

"A lot of that was focused on vehicle-to-vehicle infrastructure type communications … however, obviously cyclists are road users as well and we wanted to see how 5G could enable them to actually become a part of that cooperative transport ecosystem, and that's quite important because they're obviously one of the most vulnerable road users compared to cars," he said.

The prototype helmet is just one of a number of projects Telstra Labs is working on to showcase the potential use cases of 5G, Essery told ZDNet. 

"We're trying to really encourage and show other companies, such as Arenberg, these are the cool things you can do with 5G. A lot of companies don't understand that the connectivity is there and the ability to leverage that low latency and high throughput of 5G, and what you can do with it," he said. 

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