While I’m pretty sure my mom had eyes in the back of her head, motorists and motorcyclists have always been limited to looking forward with only rear view mirrors offering a glimpse of what’s behind them. Thanks to a revolutionary new augmented reality helmet from Skully, motorcycle riders now, literally, have eyes in the back of their head.
Called “The Google Glass for motorcycles” by some, the Skully AR-1 helmet, which was recently tested by Popular Mechanics, offers the wearer a built-in, 180° rear view projected on a heads-up display (HUD) to increase the rider’s situational awareness. While the magazine tested a prototype valued at $50,000, production models are expected to be available in early 2015 priced between $1,000 and $2,000.
With the rear-view picked up by a built-in camera, the AR-1 then projects the color image onto a small, square HUD about the size of a thumbnail sitting at the wearer’s cheekbone level. The HUD offers the helmet wearer the rear view display, as well as speed and navigation using optics designed for infinite focus, so a riders’ vision can quickly adjust from the road to the HUD and back.
Popular Mechanics’ tester noted the AR-1 HUD was small enough to fade into the periphery until the wearer glanced right to look for it. Skully officials also noted that, while a larger display was tested, the smaller HUD was chosen to avoid providing a distraction to the rider.
For balance, Skully designers placed the helmet’s battery pack at the back of the helmet to even out the weight of the HUD electronics at the front. For comfort, the AR-1 features padding developed for NASA’s space suits to keep the wearer cool and reduce perspiration. Add it all together, and the AR-1 weighs about the same as a standard mid-range-priced motorcycle helmet.
The production helmet will also offer music streaming access, navigation system and a companion app to provide speed and transmission gear position. Externally, the AR-1 will also feature LED brake lighting on the back of the helmet to enhance the rider’s visibility. In addition, Skully has designed the AR-1 to avoid obsolescence as the company add more tweaks, allowing it to receive software updates and upgrades via the web. Plus, future versions of the helmet could feature a forward-facing camera allowing riders to stream their ride, an integrated turbine to charge the battery as the wearer rides, an ambient temperature sensor to reverse the rotors and cool the wearer if he or she gets too hot and more.
To take a step forward, sometimes you have to look backward. And with its 180° rear view and HUD, the Skully Helmets AR-1 is giant step forward in augmented reality and motorcycle safety.