Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Good rider aids, or utter lunacy?
I tend to embrace technology. I love gadgets.
I also love motorcycles, but there is one thing I am very clear on. Using technology while on the move is the last thing a biker needs to do. We all know that to ride safely, we need to concentrate 100% on the road conditions ahead and we especially need to look at what other road users are doing. Anything that distracts bikers from concentrating on riding can only lead to problems.
I am therefore amazed at three motorcycle helmet manufacturers that are proposing to included on-board gadgets and technology within their helmets. Between them, they are suggesting we need Internet enabled helmets, with heads-up displays, inbuilt gps, the ability to make phone calls and send texts, see weather forecasts, and look at 180 degree rear view camera displays. Wait a minute, yes, all WHILE riding. Are they crazy? They all claim these sorts of features will help riders, but are they right?
Let’s look at what they are proposing.
The guy presenting on the Scully video (see below) already struggles with being able to read a sign at the side of the road, let alone look at the in-view displays he is suggesting. He says he slammed into the back of the car in front when looking at a sign when riding. That means he is unable to ride properly now.
This is the guy that wants to fill our heads with wait for it….. gps maps floating in front of me….. an internet enabled heads up display mobile platform that takes data from onboard sensors, gps and rear view camera and renders this up on a heads up display. It is claimed with its onboard micro-processor and Android based OS, it is the smartest helmet on the planet.
It also has a 180 degree rear view camera with a screen built into the helmet so enabling the rider to look behind and to the sides, while looking forward at the same time. The video suggests we could make and take phone calls. It even has a full screen gps view(!). It even invites other developers to suggest other apps that could be used on their platform. Other information says riders can send texts using voice commands WHILE RIDING. This is idiotic.
Just take a look at the video, especially 2:25 for about 25 seconds. This is where you see the rear view camera view in your field of vision. I guarantee when watching the this your eyes will dart about looking at the heads up display and you will not concentrate on the road ahead.
Anybody wanting to buy one of these might be attracted by the technology, but I certainly wouldn’t want one and more importantly, I wouldn’t want somebody riding behind me who was wearing one of these helmets.
The first of the Reevu helmets have been available for some time and these existing models make some degree of sense as it gives a rear view of the road behind on a small screen just above your eye line. You do have to look up though and take your eyes off the road ahead. This though is not too dissimilar from moving your eyes to look in the mirrors mounted on your handlebars.
However, the new innovations that Reevu want to build into their new helmets take things to a different level. Here is one of their images.
It seems Reevu may be planning to connect the heads-up display to the motorcycle to show RPM, speed or fuel consumption, along with indicator repeaters and possibly high beam and neutral idiot lights. From their imagery, it looks like Reevu are also targeting heads-up gps. Can you possibly imagine trying to read this information while riding? The new helmets will use the small mirror above the eyeline for the rear view, plus it will also show the sort of information on the image above. Isn’t this too much to use while riding?
Nuviz claim the world’s first Head-Up display for motorcycle helmets.
This is different from the other two manufacturers as Nuviz is technology that gets mounted to the chin piece of existing helmets. This then projects a heads-up display onto the inside of the visor somehow. The type of information it displays ranges from gps maps and directions, weather forecasts, distance travelled, speed, estimated arrival time, gear selected, revs, as well as allowing telephone calls and listening to music.
It even allows you to take photographs and video. For the social media savvy, photos can be sent to your Facebook page while you ride. Yep, you read that right – WHILE YOU RIDE!
The system uses the Nuviz Ride Cloud app and once again, through mobile internet technology, this allows riders to share data such as routes before, after or even DURING the ride. Really, why?
Okay, so it looks as if this new technology may well be available soon – some of these manufacturers say the technology will be here in 2014, but one big questions remains. Will these gadgets help or hinder riders?
Some will love what is coming our way and will covet the technology for the sake of technology. That is okay, if it is safe to use. I have my doubts though, as riding needs 100% of your concentration all of the time. Gizmos that require us to move our view away from the road cannot be good, nor can the inevitable toggles and switches that we will need our hands to manipulate the data.
Is this really a good idea that will make riding easier, or is it utter lunacy, dreamed up to exploit a potential market? Time will tell.
I won't be rushing to buy any of it.