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New Sena Outrush: A basic modular smart helmet

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Smart helmet technology continues to move forward slowly but surely, with introduction of the new Sena Outrush.

The Outrush is Sena’s first modular smart helmet; Sena already has full-face smart helmets, as well as half helmets and beanies. And, like most of Sena’s modular helmets, it’s pretty basic—really, just a standard helmet with a built-in comm system.

Sena knows all about helmet comm systems, thanks to its years of production communication devices for the motorcycle market (and several other markets as well). Sena’s 50R and 50S communicators, and the other series that preceded them, are designed to attach to the outside of the helmet, with wires connected to speakers and mic inside the helmet. Theoretically, this design allows attachment to most helmets on the market.

The Outrush comes with that communication system built into the helmet’s shell. There are several advantages to this arrangement. Theoretically, it’s more weather resistant (Sena’s communicators have had a reputation for poor waterproofing over the years). The built-in communicators aren’t protruding out the side of the helmet, so they aren’t making extra wind noise. In the event of a crash, an external comm unit could potentially cause injuries if it caught on something while a rider was sliding down the road, but the built-in comm system won’t do that.

This is all good stuff, but the flip side of Sena’s smart helmet line is … most of it really isn’t all that smart. The Momentum Pro Inc helmets have noise-cancelling technology, and the standard Momentum Pro helmets have quad HD video cameras, but otherwise, most of them are basically your standard comm system stuffed into a helmet shell.

That’s especially true with the Outrush—it seems it doesn’t even have the mesh intercom technology that Sena’s built into its latest communicators, and the Momentum Evo helmet.  Instead, it’s got “2-way HD Intercom at a range of up to a half mile (800 M). Users can also pair a smartphone to listen to music, take calls, hear GPS directions and more.” The comm set does have Sena’s audio noise cancellation, but that’s only for the sound coming over the speakers.

Here’s the thing, though: The Outrush, and the rest of Sena’s line, is actually available, unlike the failed attempts by Skully and other startups. Plenty of companies are promising helmets with heads-up displays, built-in GPS, and more, but those helmets rarely make it to market. Sena’s helmets offer much the same functionality due to their ability to integrate with smart devices via Bluetooth, and they’re not only available, they’re priced lower than the vapourware products. The Outrush is selling for $199 in the US, far less than much of the promised-but-never-delivered competition.

The Outrush is only DOT-rated, though, and if it’s like the majority of Sena’s helmets, it’ll have an old-school thermoplastic shell. There’s a drop-down sun shield, and a quick-ratchet chin strap. The internal comm set (the speakers and mic are already built-in when you buy the helmet, no need for installation) has a three-hour charge time, jog dial control, and Bluetooth 3.0 integration; the firmware is upgradeable. The helmet comes with a five-year warranty. Find more details at Sena’s website.

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