Buzz around new BMW lid

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

BMW are de­vel­op­ing a hel­met that uses hap­tics – the trans­mis­sion of in­for­ma­tion via touch – rather than the more com­mon vis­ual or au­di­ble sig­nals.

A few years ago ‘hap­tic’ wasn’t a com­mon word, but now – thanks to smart­phones – it’s one that most of us have ex­pe­ri­ence of. The vi­bra­tions used by phones to send feed­back via their touch­screens is the most com­mon ex­am­ple.

BMW’S new hel­met pa­tent de­scribes a sys­tem where a ring of hap­tic ac­tu­a­tors is mounted in the lin­ing of the hel­met, cir­cling the rider’s head. Each ac­tu­a­tor can vi­brate – or pos­si­bly ap­ply pres­sure – to a dif­fer­ent part of the head.

The ob­vi­ous ap­pli­ca­tion is for satnavs. In­stead of hav­ing to look down at a GPS at dash level or strain­ing to hear di­rec­tions from speak­ers, a rider us­ing a hap­tic hel­met could sim­ply feel a vi­bra­tion on one side of his fore­head to tell them which di­rec­tion to turn. The pa­tent ex­plains that the fre­quency of the buzzes would get faster the closer the turn­ing gets.

BMW showed a con­cept hel­met with a head-up dis­play ear­lier this year, and this hap­tic func­tion­al­ity could well work in har­mony with that.

When the ve­hi­cle-to-ve­hi­cle com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem be­ing de­vel­oped by a con­sor­tium of man­u­fac­tur­ers – in­clud­ing BMW – is ready for pro­duc­tion, this hap­tics hel­met could help com­mu­ni­cate other spa­cial aware­ness in­di­ca­tors, such as a buzz at one side of the back of your head to warn of a car in your blind spot.

This tech­nol­ogy isn’t likely to be in deal­ers any time soon, but there’s no doubt that it is com­ing.

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