Modern cycling helmets have evolved to not only better protect you during a crash but also after a crash. The most common example of this are crash sensors that can notify your emergency contacts when an impact is detected. However, this is more of an active safety feature that requires a cell phone signal and battery power to operate. POC has developed an alternative approach using an embedded NFC chip into the helmet itself with the new POC Ventral Air SPIN NFC helmet. This clever passive design is one of the first implementations for a road cycling helmet, and allows you to upload medical and personal identification information directly into the NFC chip without the need for a battery source or internet access.
The POC Ventral Air Spin NFC helmet combines a sleek ventilated design with an integrated NFC chip to store your medical information.
Emergency responders can use commonly available NFC reader applications to quickly pull the data from the chip to identify you and get your medical information if you’re unable to communicate after an accident. The NFC chip enabled helmet only costs an additional $25 over the standard Ventral Air SPIN helmet and is offered exclusively in a Uranium Black / Hydrogen White color combination. As with the Ventral Air SPIN, the helmet offers a low profile design with optimized aerodynamics and ventilation. Integrated SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) pads replace the traditional foam padding with comfortable silicon filled pads designed to further improve safety during an accident.
|Measured weight (in g)||272 (size M)|
|Likes|| + Highly ventilated|
+ Easy to adjust fit system and SPIN pads
+ NFC enabled
|Dislikes||– Premium price|
– Only available in black color
– Data privacy concern
|Where to Buy (US)||POC|
The POC helmet comes in a sleek white cardboard helmet box with metallic logos on it and a clear transparent window. In the box you’ll find:
- Ventral Air Spin NFC helmet
- Fabric storage bag
FIT & FINISH
Design wise, the Ventral Air SPIN NFC is simply the Ventral Air SPIN helmet with the NFC chip integrated into the helmet shell. Aside from the twICEme graphic (a graphic that looks like a WIFI symbol) on the helmet shell to indicate where the NFC chip is located, the helmet has the same sleek aerodynamic profile inherited from the Ventral SPIN but with the highly ventilated design of the Ventral Air SPIN. As with the Ventral Air SPIN, the helmet has a low profile design that is a welcome update from POC’s popular but bulky Octal helmet. The thick EPS foam and deep internal air channels still means it is thicker than other helmets on the market.
With this NFC version, POC only offers a Uranium Black / Hydrogen White color variation which combines a sleek semi-gloss black shell and blacked out straps / head retention system with bright white foam and rear vent surround. It’s a great looking helmet with high contrast and echoes the minimalist and euro design language POC is known for. The inside of the helmet is also quite distinctive as the SPIN pads replace the traditional MIPS liners. Without the liner in the way, the interior of the helmet is open and airy with the internal air channels fully exposed. If you’re someone that sweats with traditional helmets, the Ventral Air SPIN NFC is definitely a helmet to consider as the exterior has multiple vents.
The blunt trailing edge is aerodynamically optimized and gives the helmet a distinct and aggressive look. With the contrasting and minimal POC logo on the helmet it also means that you won’t be a rolling billboard when you wear the helmet. The full wrap around helmet shell also gives the helmet a premium appearance you would expect at this price range. As with POC’s attention to detail with their products, the Ventral Air SPIN NFC has a curved buckle, and light weight straps that make it easy to forget you’re wearing it even on all day rides.
NFC MEDICAL TAG
The Ventral Air Spin NFC is one of the first road cycling helmets with the NFC medical tag integrated directly into the shell. Although NFC technology isn’t new (it is commonly used in most contact-less payment systems), the integration of an NFC chip into a cycling helmet is a unique application. Compared to other integrated safety technology such as crash sensors found in other helmets, the NFC medical tag requires no batteries or cell phone connectivity to function. The NFC medical tag is a passive design that can be used to store your vital information that could aid medical professionals in the case of an accident. Any NFC-equipped smartphone can quickly read the data and provide critical information that you may not be able to communicate.
Although most NFC programs are able to read/write to the NFC chip, POC has specifically teamed up with the company twICEme, an app that lets you create and manage a health profile with all the vital information such as allergies, diseases, and personal identifying information. The advantage of the twICEme application is that it formats and arranges the data in a clear and concise way. Reading the data with other NFC tools will still show the data but it is more difficult to read as the data will be shown as a large text field. The chip itself has no password protection which means anyone can read/write to it. This raises some privacy concerns as well so we recommend only writing necessary information to the chip. Close proximity (within approximately 4cm) is required to interact with the NFC chip, so someone driving by you won’t be able to get your information.
Until NFC chips become common in bicycle helmets however, it’s fairly unlikely a medical professional would know how to read the medical data from the chip. Knowing this, is it still worth buying the helmet? We would say “yes” as it only costs $25 over the standard Ventral Air SPIN helmet and is a nice safety feature. This also means you shouldn’t just rely on the NFC chip and should still carry physical identification and medical/In-case-of-emergency cards as backup. Nevertheless, without the need for batteries or cell phone connectivity, we think NFC chips have great potential to improve rider safety.
We were also impressed with the 360o head retention system which sits flush against your head and wraps completely around. The cradle can be easily adjusted with the rear dial and the curved straps let the helmet sit flush against your head without pressure points. With a wrap around design and 272g measured weight (medium size), the Ventral Air SPIN NFC is very comfortable to wear. Ventilation is also excellent as the large open vents and internal channels keep air flowing through the helmet even on the most grueling slow climbs (as good if not better than the airy Smith Trace). As with the Ventral SPIN helmet it’s based on, the helmet has a shallow design that sits higher on your head. This design meant we were able to accommodate even oversized sunglasses like the Bollé Chronoshields.
Overall, we found the POC Ventral Air SPIN NFC to be a highly ventilated and comfortable helmet. Variable thickness EPS foam placement as well as the sleek SPIN pads ensure the helmet keeps you safe during a crash. With the embedded NFC chip, the helmet can also ensure first responders are able to get critical medical and personal information if you’re in a situation where you can’t communicate it yourself. Unlike crash sensors or other technology, we were particularly impressed with the NFC chip design as it does not require any batteries or specialized tools to read as nearly all modern phones have NFC readers available. Even though we still recommend carrying physical medical cards, the Ventral Air SPIN NFC provides an additional layer of safety and piece of mind. With only a slight $25 premium over the Ventral Air SPIN, the helmet is easy to recommend for those looking for a lightweight, ventilated and sleek helmet with unique safety technology.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by POC. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.