A British company is set to launch an innovative motorcycle helmet heads-up display system, similar to Google’s Glass technology, that will go on sale in the U.S. by the end of the year.
Motorcycle Information System Technologies (MIST) has spent the past three years developing an in-helmet dashboard display unit that will be unveiled at the forthcoming NEC Motorcycle Show (November 23 – December 1) in Birmingham, England.
Called the Bike HUD (heads-up display) it fits inside any motorcycle crash helmet and consists of a small screen that displays a motorcycle’s speed, engine revs, gear and time. Unlike other systems that are in development or already available, you do not need to buy it already installed in a helmet but can switch Bike HUD between helmets of your choosing. MIST anticipates that Bike HUD will retail around $480 - $560 when it goes on sale in the U.S.
“We have spent a lot of time and money researching the technology and usability of Bike HUD,” explained Dave Vout, Managing Director of MIST. “One thing that was apparent when we started out three years ago is that there are systems already available with similar technology, but you have to buy the whole package including a helmet.
“With our system you only need the hardware and computer and can fit it to whichever helmet you choose. At the moment, it can be used on any full-face motorcycle helmet. But by the end of next year we will release Bike HUD for open face helmets too.”
Bike HUD consist of three parts; the display, which is fixed inside the helmet and is mounted below either the right or left cheek and is visible in the bottom corner of a helmet’s visor.
“We looked at projecting the information onto the inside of a visor but there are some drawbacks to this. In bright sunlight you can’t read it, which why we have opted for a small display screen, “ said Vout. “There’s a flexible brace for the HUD that fits inside a helmet and the display is mounted in such a way that the rider looks over the top of it so they keep their head up and their eyes on the road ahead.”
Bike HUD is connected from the helmet via a single cable to an onboard computer and GPS unit, fitted under the seat of a motorcycle. A toggle switch, which can be used with motorcycle gloves, is mounted on a bike’s handlebars and allows a rider to scroll between the information pages that they want displayed.
“The HUD’s computer is about the size of a cell phone,” explained Vout. “It’s straight forward to install on a bike and you don’t need to be an expert technician to mount it and it will work with any motorcycle’s electrical system.
“We opted to use GPS on the HUD, as like other heads-up that use cell phone technology which updates once every second, GPS does this five to ten times a second and is more accurate.”
At the moment the GPS element of HUD is only for monitoring vehicle speed but MIST plans to roll out a full GPS mapping system by the end of 2014 that will provide regular map information on the in-helmet display screen too.
HUD currently has three riding modes to choose from including commuting, touring and track days. Commuting mode will show gear selection, indicators, speed and revs, while touring mode will add gas mileage and range. In track day mode it will be possible to see instantly your lap times and to mark certain points on a circuit to compare your speed and time. It is similar to computer telemetry used in race cars and the information can be downloaded from the HUD computer afterwards to study lap times and cornering speeds.
“We wanted to make Bike HUD as simple for the operator to use as possible, said Vout. “For example, when turning and you forget to cancel the turn signals, the speed display will flash until you turn them off.”
“You can also choose different background colors for the bike’s speed. So, if you’re in a 35 mph speed restriction zone it will be white, but it will then change to blue from 35-45 mph and so on.
“That way you just need to glance out of the corner of your eye at the display to know how fast you are going by checking the color,” said Vout. “It’s the same for the engine revs, which relies on a single horizontal bar. You can choose a color for normal running but over certain speeds the bar will change to a different color. This means you can keep your attention on the road and only monitor the display with your peripheral vision.”
Bike HUD will be shown to the public for the first time at the NEC Motorcycle Show at the end of this month in the UK and will go on sale immediately afterwards. For further information about Bike HUD and final U.S. prices and shipping costs visit the company’s website.
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