To readers who tune in for motorcycle related stories, the mixing of the technology and bikes brings the additional characters of how new technology-based companies are funded and who finances them to this saga.
The road ridden by Skully and its AR-1 Helmet can be considered a tale of what happens when high-tech meets high financing only to leave the everyday biker scratching their heads. First, a look at what was promised.
As with many others in the technology world as well as motorcycle media, Clutch and Chrome reported on June 16th Skully’s AR-1 Helmets would be made available to the public. Called AR-1, from the term augmented reality, Skully’s product was touted as being called the world's most intelligent motorcycle helmet. The model was the first helmet to feature a built-in 180° Blindspot Camera and Heads-Up Display for unparalleled situational awareness and safety. It promised to sync to a phone via Bluetooth enabling hands-free calling, GPS navigation, and music streaming, all while riders keep their eyes on the road.
Naturally, many were excited by all these advanced features with the MSRP of $1499.00 only leading to a shrug of the leather-clad shoulders by would-be buyers.
The first indication of darkening clouds came in early July when Skully co-founders Marcus and Mitch Weller were asked by investors, Intel Capital, to step down. Marcus served as CEO of Skully while his brother Mitch served as chief of staff and provided business operations, product management, and material logistics support to the company.
This change took place among the news of delays over shipping and a possible acquisition of LeSports, a China-based sports company as well as requests for additional funding, or additional money.
This funding was never found with Techcrunch reporting on July 26th Skully ‘Operations have ceased within the company, and we’re told the website will be turned off at some point today’ in a story titled ‘Skully has crashed and burned’.
The technology website also reported the Skully website was to be shut down, however it is working at the time of publishing. Riders shouldn’t rush to the website with credit card in hand though, Skully’s AR-1 helmet is sold out in every size with sales reportedly stopped on Monday July 25th.
This leaves more than 3,000 people who pre-ordered a helmet empty-handed with one source telling Techcrunch it’s doubtful any refunds will be issued. It appears the company itself will be closed for good.
“We’re disappointed Skully has closed its doors. We’ve been focused on the company’s success for nearly two years and have recently been trying to negotiate a funding round to keep it going,” Intel Capital said in a statement. “We’re certainly sorry for the employees who are losing their jobs, the crowdfunding backers whose investments didn’t work out and the customers who’d pre-purchased product. We continue to be excited by the promise of this kind of wearable technology.”
When such wearable technology which includes the features promised by Skully’s AR-1 will be again available is the question on the minds of many.