Countless hours on the open road - and superhero Tony Stark - have inspired a new idea from young Marshalltown entrepreneur Tyler Richard.
The 23-year-old has patented a motorcycle helmet known as CycleCyte that uses a reflection of a smartphone to help riders on the road. It was inspired by a helmet in the movie series "Iron Man."
"I love the Iron Man movies and his helmet display," Richard said. "I wanted to display the same thing for motorcyclists."
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Marshalltown resident Tyler Richard shows a prototype of his patented invention which allows for a display from a smartphone to be shown inside a motorcycle helmet. He hopes to have this helmet produced within the next year.
The display puts the speed and direction of where the rider is going reflected in the helmet visor, but the biggest function is the virtual character who responds to requests such as to play music, give weather updates or directions to the nearest gas station.
"The character reacts just like a co-pilot," Richard said.
Richard, who also was part of virtual reality startup company in recent years, did all of the programming for the helmet himself.
He has had people say this type of device could provide too many distractions to motorcycle riders, but he said the number of functions is up to the rider.
"All of the display is customizable," he said. "So it can be as simplistic as you want it to be."
He's already been in contact with a company in China to produce the CycleCyte helmet, but has a big hurdle to pass before that happens.
He wants to raise $140,000 through crowd source funding via pledges on www.indiegogo.com.
"Upon a successfully-funded campaign, I'd probably make a trip to China to get that finalized," Richard said.
If funding does go as hoped, he would like to have the first helmets produced by next spring. They would sell in the $400 range initially.
Richard is a 2009 East Marshall High School graduate who took a couple of years of computer classes at Iowa State University. He works in shipping at JBS to pay the bills for his young family, but continues to dream big. He said as far back as he can remember he's always been an innovator.
"My dream has always been to start and sell businesses," Richard said.
For more information visit Richard's website at www.cyclecyte.com