GPS mapping systems for motorcycles are nothing new, but there are several drawbacks to their use. Utilizing a GPS system requires the motorcyclist to take their eyes off the road to look at the route on the unit’s display, creating serious safety issues. And it is close to impossible to re-route while in motion, not to mention that road and in-helmet noise often prevents the rider from hearing the unit’s verbal recitation of directions.
Enter new Russian startup LiveMap, which is developing an augmented reality motorcycle helmet powered by Google Glass. The LiveMap helmet comprises a microdisplay, light sensor, earphone, microphone, electronic main board and battery, all of which serve to project a clear, full-color image on the visor, just like the inside of an F-35 fighter helmet. The rider controls the system using voice commands, eliminating the need for having to take your hand off the bars to fiddle with controls. The light sensor adjusts the image brightness based on outside light conditions, and a gyroscope/compass system allows the display to change when the rider’s head turns. The technology is the same as Apple’s Siri for iPhones, but it’s Android-based.
The helmet will be a little larger than normal to fit all the equipment required, and it is estimated to weigh about three pounds. Battery life is a challenge; currently the two 3000 mAh batteries supposedly keep the helmet powered for up to a day. The company is trying to raise $150,000 through crowd funding so they can begin production. The eventual production model is estimated to cost between $1,500 and $2,000 which sounds like a lot until you realize that the high-end helmet replaces, in fact vastly improves upon, the $800 GPS system you may be thinking about purchasing. It could take a while before we see this technology, though; as of this writing less than $8,000 has been raised through IndieGoGo.