Developing electronics and housing

A group of avid motorcyclists continually encountered the problem of their visors fogging up when riding. Acutely aware of compromising both visibility and safety they tried and tested various products but with little success to avoid the inevitable condensation. As they had a background of supplying heater solutions they developed a chemical coating which when combined with a voltage current instantly generated heat. With a principle in place, they began to develop a visor but needed help in how to add further functionality, make it user friendly and develop the visor pad shape so it fitted most helmets.

Developing the electronics, housing and visor pad

There were several different elements to this project which we grouped into the development of the electronics, housing and visor pad. The aim was to create a universal, battery operated visor accessory that would perform effectively for all helmet riders in the most challenging environmental conditions. We had to figure out how to connect the power visor pad to the power source in a non-obstructive way whilst ensuring it was comfortable for the user. As well as developing the visor pad shape, we needed to look at its construction (such as cable attachments and investing suitable materials for the plastic film) and how it would adhere to the visor. Then there was the additional functionality and the effect this would have on the electronics requirement. And of course it had to be waterproof, safe and weather resistant. As a consumer product they wanted it to look as good as it performed. Who wouldn’t?

Developing the electronics and housing of the control box
3D print development of the housing for the electronic control panel

Road testing the prototypes

We set several different specialists to work to define the brief. Preliminary tests with the coating determined current values for different time lengths to achieve various functions (such as the standard heating mode, boost mode, charging function and torch). We designed the hardware for the PCB then wrote the firmware to make five prototype boards for testing. We investigated the shape and size of the housing and presented our findings in the form of concept drawings. The CAD was produced to apply necessary engineering and styling for a high-end look as well as photo-realistic renders to really bring the designs to life. We provided five fully functioning prototypes (using 3D printing for the housing) so they could be tested for comfort and fit for both the internal parts and the user. These prototypes were thoroughly road-tested travelling 10,000km from Cape Town to Victoria – and back! It was clear that performance under such gruelling conditions of heavy cold rain contrasting with extreme heat was crucial therefore we achieved the rating of IP65 to protect it against the elements.

Releasing product into the market

Phew! There was a lot to do but it didn’t quite end there. There was the potential to utilise the coating technology in other industries so we created a further two unique prototypes so that the principle could be demonstrated to potential clients. For the helmet accessory though, the final product was a universal film pack that could be applied to any existing visor allowing motorcycle, snowmobile and other wearers of helmets to fully close their visors. With a boost for extra visibility, a built-in torch as well as the ability to plug in your phone, it’s versatile as well as safe. Our customer was keen to start telling their own story so we produced photo-realistic renders, arranged photos and created a promotional video for their website and social media, as well as detailing technical specifications for advertising.