PhilPAL: A Helmet-Based Crash Detector

by Wil Barrett 2

Here’s a fascinating innovation that’s likely to have a lot of mountain bikers, and their families, very interested.

The PhiPAL is described as an adventure activity monitor. Designed by a Silicon Valley-based startup called SAPHIBEAT Technologies, the PhiPAL is a wearable safety device that tracks your movement and claims to be capable of detecting if you’ve been in a crash. You mount it to your helmet, and the PhiPAL monitors your location and movement via GPS tracking. You can program it to create a breadcrumb trail, so your family and friends can see exactly where you are while you’re out riding.

The really clever part however, is in the device’s ability to recognise accidents over regular forces you experience while mountain biking. According to SAPHIBEAT, the PhiPAL learns more about your riding as you use it, and it can more accurately determine when a crash has occurred. If you’re knocked unconscious, the PhiPAL can automatically request help, contacting teammates and first responders through a cellular phone or satellite connection.


“Announcing the launch of our Kickstarter campaign today is the culmination of two years of research and development,” said Carlo Ciaramelletti, co-founder of the PhiPAL. “The idea of PhiPAL came as a result of a ski accident in 2012 when I was skiing in Italy. I was fortunate to make it home safely, but shortly after my accident, another skier crashed in the same area. The day after, he was found dead. No one could find him because nobody knew what happened and where he was. Today we have the technology to make the best use of the ‘golden hour,’ that time after an accident when even one minute can make the difference between a tragedy and just an accident to remember. By changing how we use technology to save people’s lives, we believe that the platform is a valuable companion for any sports activity that requires the use of a helmet.”


It all sounds pretty neat indeed, but right now the PhiPAL is still pre-production. Check out the video below to see how it all works and why it might be an interesting addition to your gear bag. Want to back it? Then check out the Kickstarter page here.

Comments (2)

  1. Icedot meets Spot Tracker?

  2. If you are going somewhere where your life is that much at risk: don’t go alone.

    I say that looking less at the MTB and more that the photo on the video of someone with a full back country ski mountaineering setup. Nobody rational does that alone because of the concept “avalanche”; even if you’ve done your ski mountaineering training & know how to assess risk, have one of those vests with air intakes (I have one someone), know how to use an avalanche transceiver, the survival time under snow is measured in minutes. You cannot rely on anyone except the own group of people you ski with to be able to rescue you.

    That’s not even off-piste either, any ski area where you “work the trees” puts you at severe risk of suffocating in tree wells, by ending up upside down in the very soft snow there “Tree Well and Snow Immersion Suffocation” as it is known.

    A fairly detailed article on the topic emphasises not only not to travel alone, but to never lose the site of the other: by the time you’ve made it down, realised that your friend is missing and gone back up again, it’s probably too late.

    I think there’s as much risk compensation going on here as when you go out skiing with a helmet, put a phone in the bag, tuck in the latest orthovox digital avalanche transceiver and think that all the modern tech is actually going to keep you out of trouble. It’s not —and believing that it will can only make things worse.

    Mountain biking is probably less likely to put you at imminent risk; I do go out to the woods alone, at night, and don’t feel worried. Should I? And if so, what exactly are the specific life threatening risks which this device would protect me from?

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