Go black and go back: e-tint visor inserts

Dailies -



Joining Bell and Fog City in the whiz-bang visor game is e-Tint with their MX-8 and AX-9 visor inserts. Both use electricity to instantly transition from clear to tint, either at the push of button or using a light sensor.

The MX-8 (which is shaped for full-face visors, not MX goggles) retails for $130, goes from clear to black or blue, depending on which color you buy, instantly at the push of a button. The AX-9, which is available only in black, transitions automatically (and retains the option of manual operation) and costs $150.

While this is its first appearance in a motorcycle application, powered LCD tint technology has been around for a while. First used for air-force pilots, it found its way into domestic applications (in the form of SwitchLite Privacy glass) and even made an appearance in the automotive world when Mercedes used it in the roof of its Maybach 62 luxury barge. For 2012, they’re also putting it in the roof of the SLK and calling it Magic Sky Control, which is Mercedes way of saying that they heard you liked convertibles, so they put a pseudo-convertible in your convertible, dawg.

It works by putting a liquid crystals between two conductive layers and then applying electricity to activate them. In the case of these inserts, that electricity is stored in a battery pack that you attach to your visor, on the outside in the case of the MX-8 and centered down low on the AX-9. Both batteries recharge via USB. e-Tint also says that its inserts have an anti-fog coating on both sides. The inserts are installed basically like a big sticker on the inside of your visor (or like a Fog City insert). Line up the plastic sheet with the cross-hairs on the outside of your visor, remove the backing material from the insert, line things up just right and finally press it into place.

The $120 Bell Transitions visor is cheaper than both e-Tint options and works great if you’re a wearer of Bell helmets. Fog City inserts can be had for under $40 and work automatically on the same principle as the Bell, but instead of a black tint, they’re blue. Both react to UV light and take a few seconds to go from clear to tinted. Neither require a battery and neither get especially dark. The e-Tint insert is more of a novelty at this point, but if this tech was designed into a helmet in the development stages, I can see how it would be pretty amazing. The battery could be taken off the visor and put somewhere like the chinbar and the electrical contacts could be integrated into the visor mounting system. There would be no hard borders to get in the way of your vision or bright light coming in around the edges. Here’s hoping someone picks this tech up and makes something of it.


  • stephen

    haha! xzibit joke!

    • Myles

      yo dawg, I heard you liked references to articles in your comments – so I put a reference to your comment in a reply to a comment to an article.

      • Sean Smith

        Yo dawg jokes never get old. He’ll never live down his time on Pimp My Ride.

  • Neill

    Looks like it cant be removed to put on a new visor once used.
    I do a lot of kms and go through a visor each year due to stone chips etc.

    • Johndo

      You’re unlucky…I’ve done 60000km with same visor…

  • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

    WANT. Looks like it can fit in any visor. Can I try it in mine? This would be an awesome item for that fancy German giveaway thing you do…

    • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

      Lagniappe? Not German. That’s Cajun…I gua-ran-tee.

  • ontheroad

    The big helmet manufacturers have been so slow to bring us this feature, I’m really hoping it’s almost here. I started commuting with a transitions lens recently and, apart from not getting quite dark enough like you mentioned, it’s great and makes perfect sense. We should be able to buy an effective auto-tint visor for a Shoei, AGV, Icon, whatever. My guess is that we would if companies weren’t worried about idiots crashing in low visibility conditions and filing lawsuits.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Awesome! The kids would love it… pull up beside a car and then one touch to your visor and it blacks out – better than a hologram visor!!

    Would sure solve the problem of riding to work needing a tinted visor in the morning, then riding home with the visor up because it’s dark.

    • Sean Smith

      I still carry both with me all the time. Swapping with the Icon is a 1 minute affair, which isn’t bad, but not quite the 5 seconds I used to spend with my old Arai. There’s perks to riding with a backpack.

      • Dan

        You must have some cool hands to reliably swap an arai visor that fast. I struggle with mine every time.

        • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

          Dan – Ever watched some of the instructional videos out there on the Arai visor? I used to have a hard time with it. Always thought I was about to break something and so I went cautiously. Once I saw a video from an Arai rep and another where someone commented, “Trying to take it slow makes it a lot more difficult. Line it up and slam it in,” (that’s what she said) I discovered a lot of love for the Arai system.

  • 85gripen

    Another technology from sci-fi that comes to reality. In Blade Runner Tyrell asks Rachael to “get the shades”, which consists of electrochromic tinting of a large panoramic window. Same concept. http://www.tested.com/news/not-to-be-left-out-glass-is-going-to-get-a-lot-smarter/668/

  • Steven

    try squinting. it’s free.

    • Trev

      So does having a screwed up eyesight, for free!

      • aristurtle

        Even the clear visors all have UV protection. Your eyesight will be fine with a non-tinted visor, it’s just less comfortable.

        • MotoRandom

          The downside of which is if you wear a pair of polarized sunglasses with a UV coated visor they interact and all of the cars get a rainbow reflection bouncing off. It’s very psychedelic and absolutely what you DON’T want happening to your vision while you’re riding. I had to switch to the transition lenses for ‘script glasses because it was driving me crazy.

        • Sean Smith

          Actually, some aren’t. And of the ones that are, some are better than others. Arai’s clear visors for example will absolutely let enough UV through to sunburn your eyes, eye-lids, nose and cheeks. Ask me how I know…

          • aristurtle

            Ouch. Although, if a manufacturer can’t properly UV-treat a clear visor I wouldn’t trust them with a tinted one either; it’s fairly easy to make a visor tinted to visual spectrum that still lets in UV, and your pupils will be dilated larger because of the tinting, so it could be even more harmful.

            • Sean Smith

              The tinted ones I’ve use are all fine. They work flawlessly. Pin-locks cause star-bursts and weird mirroring, but they’re never ever, under any circumstances fog, so I use them anyway. I just really hate pink, sun-burned and incredibly painful eyes after 500 miles of high-speed twisties.

  • aristurtle

    I use a Pinlock insert in my clear visor already, and I have to say, visor inserts kinda suck. I really hate what they do to my peripheral vision. I would love something like this if it was a full replacement visor, but as an insert it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    I wonder how this affects your ability to see. It reminds me of a helmet I used to have that had a blast shield on it. Couldn’t see anything when the blast shield was down. Of course, that’s when I learned that your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.

    • Pete

      Don’t buy one. It’s a trap!

    • MotoRandom

      Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid

    • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

      Nice replies, Pete and MotoRandom. Don’t get cocky.

    • Sean Smith

      I wholly approve of these Star Wars inspired comments. Good work guys.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Great, more weight added to my already heavy helmet. What with the shark-fin, bluetooth, mohawk, CB, I sure need more batteries.

    I like the Transition-style visor, but I think I will just stick to the 2 visor solution for the time being.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

    Akuma Helmets worked on this a few years back. Product never hit the market as far as I’m aware, though.



  • ike6116

    I’ve seen Pinlock photochromic (they call it protecTINT) ones that work the same way the “Transissions lenses” work in people’s glasses, I’d prefer that to a goofy dongle holding a battery pack.

    Only problem is cant seem to find them stateside or any place that sells them online and will ship to the US. I would be on them like stink on a monkey

    • Sean Smith

      This is what you’re looking for. You can buy them here.

      • ike6116

        This could be awesome….

        Though Im not sure if it will fit my HJC RPS-10

  • Coreyvwc

    I’ve been riding with only a dark tint visor in all light conditions for quite some time now. Besides the fact that it’s “illegal” in some places I have experienced zero visibility problems with this. It’s just like wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day, your eyes DO adjust. I sun burn very easily and have sensitives so this is a chance I’m willing to take…

  • Keith

    Did anyone else look at the shipping costs?
    Quite unreasonable!