Engineering grad lights up the night with Tron-inspired helmets

Movie magic from the Tron franchise has moved from the mainframe into the mainstream. Thanks to the efforts of SFU engineering graduate Thomas Plywaczewski, everyone can ride their motorcycles while donning helmets that glow in the dark — just like the ones in the movie Tron.

Inspired by the movie and his passion for motorcycles, Plywaczewski designed and developed his first LightMode helmet in 2013 to increase his own visibility while riding his 2003 Honda CBR 600RR. Plywaczewski is now taking orders for anyone who wishes to own one of these helmets.

With the help of his good friend Amanda Lee, an SFU business graduate, the small company is optimizing motorcycle helmet visibility by affixing them with electroluminescent materials that do not compromise the structural integrity of the helmet.

Plywaczewski explained that there’s hardly any additional weight to the helmet from the technology, and a single charge can last for months, depending on how often you ride at night. The lights turn on with the push of a button, and improve rider safety in a way that, until now, has never been released in the market.

Plywaczewski told The Peak that in its current capacity, the company provides either pre-wired helmets or a kit for consumers. “In the kit, I provide all the materials and instructions in a DVD format so people can just go step by step and make this themselves.”

The kits come with electroluminescent material and a battery-powered controller. With simple step-by-step instructions, customers will have their helmet in minutes, illuminating the night streets of Vancouver much like the characters in the movie.

The company is optimizing motorcycle helmet visibility with electroluminescent materials.

Through a Kickstarter campaign, the startup hoped to achieve their funding goals by the end of August 2014. At time of press, the campaign has raised $15,002 — a number significantly higher than their original $2,400 goal, which was reached in just seven and a half hours. The team plans to put the money to good use, covering all the materials, shipping costs, and website fees, as well as marketing to satisfy the growing number of orders.

The product has already surpassed domestic demand, as suppliers in the United States, Australia, Japan, Russia and India have contacted Plywaczewski to order large quantities for their own customers looking to buy the helmets.

“I’m hoping [. . .] to ship everything out by the end of September,” he said. “All those hiccups and things like that, I going to try to minimize as best I can.”

In the next few years the company hopes to move away from the do-it-yourself kits and start manufacturing the helmets in the thousands.
CMYK-Tron-1-Anderson Wang