Does Lumos work near the Arctic Circle in winter?

We ran a beta testing program in January this year with 60 people in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, Finland, and Singapore, and interviewed a few of them so that they could share their experiences with their Lumos beta unit with the rest of our backers!

This is the third interview in this series. Previously we were chatting with Victor from Munich, Germany and Robert from California. In this interview we're psyched to introduce you guys to Patricia! Patricia's our beta tester with the highest latitude - she's been testing our helmet in the frigid arctic environment of Finland in winter!

LH: Hi Patricia, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. You are actually the northernmost beta tester and you have experienced the product in the heart of winter there so I am very curious to hear about your experience. To start us off, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Patricia: Sure! I am Patricia and I live in Finland. I’m a 42 year old ICU nurse and I specialize in neurotrauma, which means that if you hurt your head and you need ICU treatment, you would really want me to be around since I know that stuff. In my work I see a lot of head injuries caused to cyclists. Especially cyclists without helmets. I actually also have a thing going on too where I go around schools giving lectures about how important it is to wear a helmet, but for some reason kids around 15-20 years old don’t like to use them. That is why your helmet caught my interest because it is cool, it is interesting and it is highly visible, which is important. I also cycle myself all year round. It is wet and extremely cold for 6 months of the year and this is why I personally got very interested in your “UFO” helmet as it is called around my neighbourhood.

LH: Cool! Clearly the helmet has caused some discussion there. Could you tell us a little about what it has been like being a beta tester? You were one of the first ones to get your hands on the helmet outside the Lumos team. What was it like when you received the helmet and first used it?

Patricia: It was superb. I waited for it like a kid for a Christmas present and when I got it the helmet was even cooler than I had thought. I immediately put the gadgets on my winter bike and went out for a ride. This was maybe 5 minutes after I got the package. All the kids in my neighbourhood came to see it and I told them this is the “superhelmet” I have told you about. Right away people were asking where can they get one.

The helmet was comfortable, it was easy to fit and also it was easy to set up the handlebar buttons. The only issue I had is that the product is that the buttons were a little small so it was tricky to push when I was wearing thick winter gloves. I was able to fix it though by repositioning the buttons a bit.

LH: That is also one issue we noticed and looked to fixed for the production version of the buttons. You have been very active and motivated as a tester. Why did you want to participate in the beta tester program?

Patricia: I liked the idea and what especially got to me is the highlighted visibility and simple elegant solutions like the turn signals. I often felt that car drivers aren’t that fond of cyclists on the road and I feel that having lights and good visibility helps. As an idea it was really cool to get to be one of the first ones to test the helmet out and with the background I have as a professional in my field and as an avid cyclist riding 4000-5000 kilometers a year, I thought I could really help you guys. That is why I decided to join.

LH: You and all the other beta testers really were a huge help to us - Thank you for being such active and helpful testers! Tell us a little bit about your bike ride. What does your commute look like?

Patricia: Sure, I live by the seaside near the archipelago and it is around 10 kilometers from here to the University Hospital in town. I live in a new neighbourhood, so there is a lot of building going on and often during the winter this is the last place the roads get cleared out of snow so there is often a lot of snow and ice on the road. After I cross the bridge into town, the last 5 kilometers or so of my commute is a nice smooth ride on bike lanes. Sometimes in winter I need to ride with cars on the road since the bike lanes aren’t always cleaned from under the snow.

LH: You mentioned the added visibility and the lights as a key feature of the helmet. Do you think it has made a difference to your commute?

Patricia: Naturally it helps me by keeping me safe. As an ICU professional I know through statistics that 90% of cycling related brain damage could be prevented by wearing a helmet. I have spent so much time educating my brain and to getting where I am, that I want to do everything I can to protect my head. So in that sense I need a good helmet, but also I like my stuff to look cool. For me as a cyclist I want the product I use to be well designed so they don’t slow me down whenever I ride. But as mentioned for me the visibility is the number one feature together with the safety.

The added visibility of the helmet has actually been the key feature that has been noticed by others too. I have had cars drive up to me and open their window to find out what the heck is on my head because they could see me from over a kilometer away. The lights really can be seen from far and they raise positive interest. It is amazing. For drivers it is also a nightmare when there are cyclists on the road who aren’t visible.

LH: Do you feel now that car drivers have treated you differently when your ride wearing the Lumos Helmet?

Patricia: There is one big crossing on my route, where I’m supposed to go first, but drivers never let me because I’m on my bike and they are in their cars. Now when I turned my turn signal on, all the cars stop and let me go. This has actually never happened before when I was just showing a hand signal. Now they just stare at me and the lights and stop to let me ride first. It was really nice! I have received a lot of positive feedback on the helmet from drivers.

LH: You have been using the beta helmet for several months now. Is there anything missing that you would like to see added to the product, or have you noticed any flaws in it? 

Patricia: No not really. I have been very satisfied with it. The only thing maybe is that when the helmet is running out of battery, there is no warning about before it goes off. It just goes dark. If your guys can make a warning signal for the battery power, that would be great.

(FYI, we are doing something about this - If the helmet has critically low battery, it will give a series of loud distinctive beeps just before it dies so that at least you know the lights are shutting down. There is also a low battery indicator in the helmet to let you know when the charge is getting low.)

LH: You live and bike in close to arctic conditions in Finland. How has the battery life held up under those conditions?

Patricia: The battery life is good. I haven’t noticed any issue with the battery or electronics even during the coldest period of -15 to -20 degrees Celsius (5F to -4F). I ride to work and back usually 3-4 times a week as I work long shifts on the ICU. With that rhythm, the battery lasts me around 2 weeks and it was the same during the cold months too.

LH: Given your experience with the beta helmet thus far, would you recommend people use Lumos for their bike rides?

Patricia: I absolutely would and I actually already have been recommending it to people. I have several people asking about it and many people want it. I also think it is a great helmet for older kids who often think helmets don’t look cool. When I have shown the helmet to kids at my lectures they just look at it and ask “what is that, it looks cool!”. I think they would love to wear it too.

LH: Excellent! Maybe we could discuss briefly your opinion on the discussion around whether helmets are useful protection for cycling accidents. There is a lot of discussion and debate as to whether or not helmets prevent serious injuries and concussions. But what is your professional opinion on it?

Patricia: I have a very clear opinion from practice. I have both patients who have worn a helmet and patients who have not worn a helmet and the difference is quite big. Patients who wear a helmet and end up on the ICU, would have usually been killed if they had not worn a helmet and usually people who did not wear a helmet have quite severe brain injuries even in smaller accidents. I do hear these counter opinions as well and I have suggested that we would have a study group where 50 cyclist riding into a brick wall with a helmet and 50 cyclists ride into that wall without a helmet, but the problem is that nobody wants to be in the group that rides into the wall without the helmet. So I think that concludes the discussion.

LH: Very interesting. As before, to conclude this talk, would you like to share any further thoughts to fellow cyclists, Lumos followers and backers and general public?

Patricia: Well as mentioned, as an ICU nurse, a neurotrauma specialist and avid cyclist, I really do recommend wearing helmets. If you can get a cool “UFO” helmet, like the Lumos Helmet, I would recommend getting that one. Protect your head, cycle, have fun and keep fit. That’s all.

LH: Patricia thank you for sharing your professional and beta tester experience with us all. It has been really interesting speaking to you and we look forwards to hearing more from your campaigning for the use of helmets. Thank you again!

Eu-wen, Jeff, and the Lumos Helmet team

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  • Catina

    Really pleased about the battery life and reliability of the electronics!

  • Mars

    Very cool! Thank you for sharing your experience.

    One comment that really caught my attention was your mention of a major intersection where the drivers never let you go first. But with the turn signals on, they allow you to pass.
    I wonder, is the intention to turn left/right also visible from the front of the helmet? That is, when turning right, does the right side of the front light ‘bar’ flash on and off while the left side remains dark? Conversely for the left?
    If not, this would be a fantastic addition to the functionality of the helmet… – update – just looked at the video on the kickstarter site and sure enough, the front areas do flash. But perhaps the rest of the lights in front could go dark to make the turn signal that much more visible? An option to add to the future IPhone, Android and Windows 10 Mobile Apps…

    Thanks for the great right-up!

  • Warren

    As you guys know (since I bug you about it every time) battery life in cold weather is a big one for me. Nice to hear it lasts a long time as my temps will be as low as -40C (-40F) in the winter.

  • Jamie Boisvenue

    Truly great to see input from head trauma professionals. The ideal beta tester if ever there was one.

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