Editor’s Note: In the month of May, we’re focusing on how wearable technology can help users better experience the Great Outdoors. Rapid innovation within the industry has yielded devices catered towards everyone from avid campers and rock climbers to kayakers and motorcycle riders. Whichever way you prefer to experience Mother Nature, whether by using your own two hands or by riding atop two wheels, there is some piece of technology to help you improve your performance or enhance the experience.
Considering the Hero4’s ability to shoot 30 frames per second in ultra-high resolution, it comes as no surprise that MotoGP™ recently announced a five-year partnership with GoPro, a marriage that places motorcycle racing fans as close to feeling as though they are Valentino Rossi as humanly possible.
But how about those of us who are not merely captivated by Grand Prix superstars, but for whom two wheels are our daily commute or weekend trail ride? Many riders already have GoPro cameras mounted on helmets, but the last year has brought with it exponential innovations in motorcycle gear aimed at safety and ease of use.
Winner of “Best Wearable Tech Company” at SXSW 2014 and easily the most advanced motorcycle helmet on the market, the Skully AR-1 features a transparent floating head up display (HUD) that gives the rider full situational awareness with a revolutionary 180° rearview camera. The introduction of a live blind spot view effectively minimizes the likelihood of blind spot related crashes.
Essentially using the same technology we see in high-tech automobiles, Skully also uses voice control for hands-free calling, music streaming, and GPS navigation (although any seasoned rider would tell you that listening to music is less than safe, regardless of helmet capability). Currently available for pre-order in a matte black or glossy white at a mere $1,499, it is a beautiful yet un-affordable gadget for most riders.
However, there is another helmet in the works that may give Skully a run for its money. Though just out of beta testing, The Guardian from Fusar Technologies also features an ultrawide rearview camera and HUD display, but will have added video recording capabilities intended to commit to hard memory exactly what transpired in the event of an accident — call it a visual black box. Pricing is as yet unannounced, but the helmet is expected to hit the market in the fall of 2015.
Rule of 3
If you are happy with your helmet but still want to monitor your movement and environment without having to look down, BIKEHUD is an audio-visual gadget that clips onto your existing helmet and maintains safety by operating on what it calls the Rule of 3. For simplicity’s sake, the display presents only the parameters of speed, gear change, and engine revs.
The mountable gadget can be connected to a free downloadable GPS and also has the ability to alert you of approaching speed cameras. Revving in at $534 with an additional $68.40 for GPS, it is an expensive alternative to simply paying attention to your bike.
In the event that you do crash, Alpinestars created a Tech-Air airbag system housed within both the Valparaiso touring jacket and Viper street jacket. The advanced weatherproof gear utilizes algorithms capable of predicting accidents and detecting both low- and highside crashes. Release date in the U.S. as well as price points are as yet undetermined, but the jackets will be available in Europe sometime in spring 2015. This technology follows the wave of similar motorcycle airbag jackets, such as Dainese D-air technology, which will set you back £1400 (~2194.78 USD) for vest and sensor, as well as the very nascent Safety Sphere, which is essentially an enormous fully encompassing safety cocoon.
A more affordable option, Beartek’s motorcycle gloves are easy to use and employ dual functionality via two separate modules- Bluetooth, in order to listen to music and take calls, and a camera module, which allows you to control a GoPro with ease.
The rider simply hits different touch points on their glove with their thumb to navigate songs, conversations, and to start or stop camera use. The gloves retail at $275, with each module costing $140 individually.
With safety and ease as primary considerations, these gadgets are undoubtedly transforming the way in which motorcyclists are communicating with the world as well as the open road. The question that remains is, when will they affordable to the layman?