Forget bike riding. This MIT spin-out wants you to mind ride.

While studying at the MIT Media Lab, Arlene Ducao built the prototype of what’s now MindRider, a mind-reading bicycle helmet currently available to the masses courtesy of Kickstarter.

She tinkered and tweaked with the design while in New York City, where cycling alongside notoriously swerving yellow cabs feels like a daily deathtrap. And it was in the Big Apple where she also met Ilias Koen at the School of Visual Arts. For nearly a decade, the two have focused on scientific data visualization, tricking out their helmets rather recreationally on the side.

Today’s budding world of wearable tech, where biking can be innovative, inspired them to rethink their protective gear. “I wanted to understand how I moved through the city,” described Ducao in a statement.

With MindRider, cyclists — as well as skaters, rollerbladers and the like — can discern their levels of engagement in real-time. A soft sensor embedded in the helmet’s foam measures those signals and translates engagement into green or red light, symbolizing when riders are relaxed or on high-alert, respectively.

Each helmet is also synced to the MindRider mobile app, which maps and tracks levels of engagement and allows users to share their “mind maps” with others. By doing so, riders can assist fellow cyclists in charting a safer course.

Maps show “Hotspots” and “Sweetspots” and, as riders mind-map their rides, they become more aware of which routes feature more of each. As the team asks:

You decide – do you want to challenge yourself and try to convert your Hotspots into Sweetspots? Or do you want to relax and enjoy the route that engages more Sweetspots? It’s all up to you.

“The knowledge I gained from tracking and mapping my activity provided me more awareness and helped me feel more in control,” Ducao added. “I hope it is able to do for hundreds of others what it’s done for me.”

For $190, customers can receive a super-earlybird of the MindRider in black, assembled and quality-controlled in New York. The team’s overall goal is to raise $200,000 on Kickstarter. By crowdfunding, Ducao and Koen can better understand what their users want, whether it’s having a helmet that’s rechargeable or comes equip with replaceable batteries.

Although all the testing has been done in Brooklyn, Ducao returned to Kendall Square this week. MindReader remains a part of the MIT Media Lab’s new fund for student startups, called E14, which announced its first cohort of companies this January. While at MIT, Ducao took to mind-mapping the campus, providing live demonstrations of the product to passersby.

To see the product in action for yourself, check out the team’s Kickstarter video below.

Featured Image via Kickstarter