HomeNews & FeaturesMTBInterview: Christian Connolly of twICEme - Simple Tech for Bike Helmets that...

Interview: Christian Connolly of twICEme – Simple Tech for Bike Helmets that can Save Lives

There is a steady stream of sports technology but when the technology becomes too complicated, not only is it harder to explain (and sell), complex tech starts to get expensive and prone to failure. twICEme is tech… but is very straight forward, simple to use and is a smart idea.

In a nutshell, a twICEme tag is an NFC (Near Field Communication) medical ID chip and is installed into sports gear, such as a bicycle helmet. The NFC chip stores medical data for the rider and in the case of an accident, a smart phone can read the data. The implications are obvious, medical staff have immediate access to data which could potentially be crucial and lifesaving. The catchphrase twICEme use is “The helmet that can speak for you when you can’t.”

The chip doesn’t need to be charged or maintained so it remains dormant until a smart phone tries to read it. The once-only cost is part of the helmet purchase and it doesn’t require a subscription. In fact, in some ways it is similar to the MIPs helmet tech where helmet brands can choose to adopt this tech and give customers an additional safety feature.

poc ventral air nfc twiceme bike helmet
POC Ventral Air with twICEme technology due out in 2020

The young Swedish brand twICEme supply the small and lightweight tags which can be integrated into sporting and outdoor gear and POC are adopting this technology in two new bike helmets earmarked for release in 2020. twICEme CEO Christian Connolly explains more about their tech.

Christian Connolly twiceme nfc interview
Christian Connolly, twICEme CEO

Christopher Jones: At Eurobike, your colleague Jack Svensson (COO) demonstrated the twICEme concept on the new POC Tectal Race SPIN and Ventral Air SPIN bike helmets. Could you outline what twICEme does and why it is beneficial to riders? 

Christian Connolly: twICEme identification is a company that aims to save lives by providing easy access to vital medical information. We do this by implementing twICEme tags into helmets and therein, turning them from silent to smart. The other day, we came in contact with a rider whose friend jumped on the bike to head to the local cafe. On the way there, he was hit by a car, fractured a couple of vertebrae and was initially knocked out. As he only had a credit card with him, it was difficult to gather any information about him. It took hours until his wife and kids back home got the news of the accident. This is a great example of when twICEme medical ID could have been of great help. 

Christopher Jones: What was the motivation to develop twICEme, was there a specific situation that promoted this and do you have data on cycling safety which have supported the introduction of this solution?

Christian Connolly: The idea was originally founded by military professionals and the need was first identified in the field. But as we started to look for other applications and spoke to doctors, rescue personnel and other medical professionals, the response was very positive. It is a difficult task gathering useful data on the effects of such efforts but we are working with ambulance personnel to get such data and hope to have it soon. 

Christopher Jones: The twICEme tag is available to product manufacturers to install, can you outline the cost for the end-user, for example, there is no subscription or usage cost. How much more would twICEme enabled helmet cost compared to the same helmet without this tech?

Christian Connolly: The price for the end-user varies, of course, from model to model. But the beautiful thing is that we’ve managed to make all of the services around the twICEme tag completely free for both users and rescue organisations. The helmet becomes a one-time investment in exchange for insurance for the entirety of the life span of the helmet. The one time cost will be very reasonable. 

For a customer, the additional cost for a twICEme enabled helmet would range between 20-40 USD. 

Christopher Jones: What is the impact for bicycle helmet brands… does a helmet need to be specially designed for this or can it easily be fitted to existing helmets or even retrofitted?

Christian Connolly: I have no doubt that twICEme will become a global standard in all helmets in a couple of years. This is because of the simplicity with which it can be integrated into helmets. For producers, it can easily be integrated into already existing production lines and existing models. The retrofit option is something we are looking into and might be available in the future. 

twiceme nfc poc helmet
Demonstration of medical data access from the twICEme NFC chip in the POC Tectral helmet

Christopher Jones: How close does a mobile phone with NFC reader need to be to receive the data?

Christian Connolly: 20 mm. 

Christopher Jones: Cycling helmets is just one of many different application where this makes sense, can you outline your focus and also how you see this develop in the future?

Christian Connolly: We are at the moment in the snow segment and the biking segment but as you point out, there are no restrictions as to which types of equipment we can integrate into. However, a very important aspect of what we do is safety and we work very hard to build a community surrounding the twICEme brand. It is essential that rescue personnel know our brand. This also guides our strategic decisions for the future. However, brands are equally important in spreading awareness and in gaining adoption, so entering a new segment requires strong partners on both the rescue and brand side.  

poc tectal spin nfc twiceme chip medical
The symbol on the top of the POC Tectal SPIN shows that it has NFC enabled medical data

Christopher Jones:  The functionality of the twICEme tech relies on another person identifying the logo (symbol) and knowing how to use it. What are you doing to ensure that medical staff, other authorities and even the general public are able to recognise symbol and understand how to read the data and use it to help a person?

Christian Connolly: We work with many different organisations in order to spread awareness about our brand and method. Thankfully, the method is a really easy method (think “tapping” your credit card when paying) and everything is free for rescue organisations, so it has been easy to get the word out so far. The knowledge of twICEme, of course, grows at an exponential pace once it starts to spread. 

twiceme medical information
Example of personal information and medical information a person can load onto twICEme

Christopher Jones: A user can decide which data is loaded however they may prefer that important medical data is not easily accessible to everyone. What are the solutions to protect the privacy and prevent misuse?

Christian Connolly: This is one of our most important questions, so I appreciate that you ask it. Our tags save data on the tag, and on the tag only. There are no databases or cloud services involved. The tag itself is completely inactive until it comes in contact with a smartphone and therefore, it has no battery and does not need any wi-fi/3G/4G/5G to be read. Additionally, the medical information displayed on the smartphone is automatically deleted two minutes after the scan. So it is safe to say that the data is safe on the tag. But at the end of the day, you are in charge of your data and it is there for your own benefit. So even though we encourage you to upload all essential data, doing so is completely up to you. 

The POC Tectral Race and Ventral AIR helmets are due to be released in 2020, Australian standards approval is complete and likely to be available shortly after the European and US release. At the time of writing, Android smart phones with NFC capability can read and also write to the NFC chips. iPhones can read NFC chips, to be able to write/store data to the chip, iOS13 is required.

Further Details
twICEme Website

Christopher Jones
Christopher Joneshttps://www.bicycles.net.au
Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a design agency, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.
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