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Intelligent active protection system for motorcyclists: saving lives through optimum use of latest advances in sensor technologies, wireless communication, smartphone platforms, real-time analysis

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INE IAPS (Intelligent active protection system for motorcyclists: saving lives through optimum use of latest advances in sensor technologies, wireless communication, smartphone platforms, real-time analysis)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2017-05-31

Whilst motorcycling is considered a very enjoyable experience by those who have tried it, it remains a dangerous means of transport that often leads to serious injury in case of accident. Almost half of the motorcycle accidents happen in urban areas at low speed; in most cases riders either have accidents on their own or are hit by another vehicle, mainly cars. During the crash, the rider is often ejected and can hit a variety of obstacles. Over the years, efforts have been made to develop protective clothing and equipment for the riders. In&motion, a Annecy-based award-winning company, is addressing all those challenges, forthcoming legislation changes and constraints by exploiting its expertise in intelligent and active wearable protection devices as the mantel piece for its innovative solution. The resulting concept is innovative not only in technology but also in the market reach strategy; two elements which combined make this innovation truly disruptive for the market. A literature survey done by In&motion has revealed the three areas most affected in serious motorcycle injuries: the thorax (44%), the head (30%), and the abdomen (15%). Whilst every European rider wears a helmet, the penetration of protection systems for thorax and abdomen remains very limited: only 0.3% of riders in France wear airbag systems and even then those offer limited protection to these body areas. In&motion have decided to bring to market an intelligent airbag vest that would revolutionise the motorcycling market. The motorcycles market represents 33 million vehicles in Europe alone. 23 million of those are motorcycles equipped with engines bigger than 50cc in capacity – these are the primary targets for airbag suppliers, In&motion included. Almost 70% of those 23 million users are concentrated within only five EU countries: Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the UK.

The direction given to legislation discussions by governments in these countries is set to further impact the market potential for intelligent body-protection devices for use in this motorcycling arena. Over the past ten years, major efforts to increase the safety of car drivers have led to a drastic reduction of road accident fatalities (-53%). Over the same period, the number of 2-wheel fatalities has only reduced by 20%. And with the number of registrations for over-50cc motorcycles continuously increasing, the overall picture looks particularly gloomy unless actions are taken. Based on this observation, the safety of motorcyclists is becoming a priority for governments as well as for insurance companies. In France, a classification for body protection airbag systems for motorcyclists has been released in order to assess and evaluate the construction and performance of the devices available. This classification is the first step towards an overall scheme that encourages riders to be better equipped, beyond the legal pre-requisites. Again, the superior benefits of In&motion’s solution may well accelerate this move hence bringing yet additional benefits to the customers.

The project’s objectives are therefore to develop an airbag vest suitable for this motorcycling application, to develop the algorithm that will make it this protective device with unparalleled performance, and to develop the data handling architecture that goes with it. Developed so that the solution is optimised to meet specific end users’ comfort needs without compromising on optimum protection, the In&motion concept will bring motorcycling enjoyment to a whole new level, encompassing a wide range of benefits:
• Strong protection improvements reducing the risks of severe injuries and decreasing the number of hospitalised days.
• In-designed and ultra-light system offering a perfect fit for the end users.
• Reactivation of the device using easy-to-handle consumables.
• A more affordable retail price.
In&motion recognised three types of barriers to market introduction for such a disruptive innovation:
• Brand recognition – this is a particularly strong requirement in the world of motorcycling, as the majority of riders do identify with one of the key brands on the market. In&motion’s decision to partner with a recognised player like IXON is partly due to this constraint.
• Distribution network – like in many other markets, the company’s ability to supply goods and spares in a timely fashion will play a part in In&motion’s success in entering this motorcycling market. Again, joining forces with a company that already has well established distribution partners is a carefully-thought strategic move by In&motion.
• Market segments – the profile of motorcyclists differs widely depending on their reasons for owning and riding a motorbike. The expectations regarding safety equipment (for performance, cost, etc.) are very different for a daily commuter compared to a sport road biker for example.
The principal challenge facing the team in the early part of the project was therefore the critical necessity to partner with the main specialised clothing manufacturers. This is now done through strong partnership agreements with the French company IXON.
There is also a fourth barrier, specific to electronically-activated airbags: the credibility of the fall detection algorithm. In&motion’s overall development strategy relies on the creation of a large database of users that will allow for continuous improvement of the detection device through auto-learning. This is the approach that In&motion has successfully focused on, managing to interest thousands of riders in taking part in a live-test. 500 riders were carefully selected throughout Europe and equipped with In&motion airbags. The test is in progress and providing very valuable data for the team already.
Of course, all the above required physical airbag devices to be designed, developed and manufactured, according to vey stringent quality constraints. In&motion have designed an award-winning product and have developed in-house production capabilities to produce the first 500 test products.
A complex data handling system has been purpose-made to handle the exchange of data from the device’s integrated electronics, to the mobile application, and to the overall platform capable of analysing the uploaded data in order to continuously improve the performance of the system.
The project is on-time, on-target and progressing very well thanks to a well-prepared overall business strategy based on an organic growth and on the use of external specific expertise. Over the course of the first period, the In&motion team have doubled its headcounts and are expected to continue to grow over the coming year with the new expertise needed to ensure a successful product launch.
Beyond the technical developments that this project requires, the three In&motion founders have attached a lot of importance in the dissemination of results from their entreprise. They are particularly active in the promotion of protective devices to help bring awareness amongst the motorcycling community and in turn save lives through the wider use of such devices.
They have also made it an objective to be actors in the development of European standards and norms in this field of personal protective devices. All three founders are active members of working groups in France and at the European level to help draft and validate purposeful guidelines towards the development, manufacture and use of those protective devices.
Sticker offered to selected testers
Logo of Airbag Revolution campaign (live testing)