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Helmets for Hogs

They swerve in and out of traffic, find parking spots lickety-split and emit an unmistakable aura of cool. But for bikers on their Harleys, it’s a trickier affair to flip through CDs or fumble with a map. Enter a team of engineering students from the University of California, Berkeley, who have devised a motorcycle helmet endowed with voice-activated controls. The fully loaded helmet lets bikers speed dial their buddies, play Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” or, eventually, download driving directions via GPS technology. “We want to provide the motorcyclist with all of the audio luxuries considered standard on a car, without the distracting controls,” says team leader Dan Steingart, a materials science graduate student at Berkeley. The group strapped a Palm Pilot-sized server onto the motorcycle’s frame to act as a universal control and equipped the helmet with a wireless transceiver and headset. The students are seeking venture capital funding.

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