Smart lids up around the bend
THE next safety advance for motorbike riders is a head-up display in the helmet.
BMW previewed its dataprojecting lid at this week’s annual Consumer Electronics Show but says the innovation is still a few years away from production.
The advantage of the proposed factory setup over existing aftermarket head-up designs is owners don’t have to modify their bike’s wiring or fit a new switchblock on to the handlebars to operate it.
BMW’s helmet setup comprises a minicomputer, speakers, a pair of cameras and a panel in front of the rider’s right eye to display the information. The forwardfacing camera can capture video of the trip while the rear lens is intended to operate as a “digital rearview mirror”.
A pair of batteries in the helmet give about five hours’ operating time and riders can tailor the information being shown from a basic speed display to the bike’s fluid levels, road sign recognition, navigation displays and traffic jams or road hazards ahead.
BMW’s understated press release says constant observation of the road “would appear even more important with motorcycles than it is with cars, because it can sometimes only take a brief visual distraction to put the rider in a critical road situation”.
The brand takes motorbike safety seriously and was the first bike maker to fit ABS as standard equipment across its range.
BMW envisages the HUD integrating with vehicle-tovehicle communications to transmit road information in real time. For example, riders in a group can tell whether their colleagues are ahead or behind.
Riders wanting this technology today need to look at tech from Livemap, Reevu, Skully, Intelligent Cranium and BikeSystems.
In much the same way as the helmet HUD has evolved from use in cars, BMW also demonstrated a K1600 GTL tourer fitted with laser headlights derived from its i8 and top-spec 7 Series vehicles.
The lights can double a rider’s night-time visibility to about 600 metres, a massive help on country roads where kangaroos cause motorcycles grief.
BMW concedes the technology is too expensive to fit to motorbikes yet, but predicts economies of scale resulting from greater adoption by car brands will make it an economic proposition “in the medium term”.