BMW Motorrad has presented two prototype electronic systems at CES 2016 that offer a clear view of the not-too-distant future. The company's tricked-out head-up display (HUD) helmet and laser-powered lighting system are destined to make motorcycles both safer and more functional.
BMW has never been the one to shy away from innovation. A pioneer in adopting motorcycle ABS, the German company continues to push the envelope with electronic systems like the Dynamic Brake Light and Side View Assist.
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This week BMW has used one of the world's largest consumer electronics show to introduce more innovative technology. Having unveiled the iVision Concept and the AirTouch gesture-controlled interface for its cars, the motorcycle division has followed suit with two new concept systems.
Companies like Intelligent Cranium, Reevu and BikeSystems have already invested heavily in the race to offer the first HUD system in the market. These systems are designed to project information directly into the rider's field of view, making riding safer by eliminating the need to look away from the road in order to check the motorcycle's instruments. Now BMW is joining the party.
The system presented by BMW employs a glass display over the right eye that projects a variety of useful data. The most obvious information would be what is displayed on the typical instrument panel – speed, temperature, gear, fuel level, etc.
It can also be programmed for a lot more information, depending on the rider's needs. Cameras contained within the helmet can deliver a live feed from the rear, effectively substituting for the mirrors. The prototype BMW helmet is also equipped with an integrated mini-computer and speakers, wirelessly controlled via a multicontroller fitted at the left side of the handlebars. Power is provided by two batteries that are contained at the lower rear part of the helmet and can last for five hours on one charge.
BMW foresees even more functions for its HUD, such as connectivity with vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems that will transmit road information in real time from one rider to the other. Such a system could also connect to a future road-to-vehicle communication infrastructure.
According to BMW Motorrad, this system will evolve to production level within the next few years.
Laser light headlamps
Headlights using laser technology are not something new for BMW, as it already applies similar systems in cars like the 7 Series and the i8. The CES prototype is presented on the six-cylinder luxury touring icon, the K 1600 GTL.
The laser light headlamps generate a very bright pure-white light, with a high beam that can reach up to 600 m (1,968 ft) – almost double the range a conventional headlight can achieve – and the an additional benefit of a long service life of this maintenance-free construction.
It would be very interesting to learn about the power consumption of the laser light, but for the time being BMW has not disclosed this information, as the concept system is still in development phase. According to the German company it is still too expensive to be commercialized in motorcycles, but this will probably change as it is incorporated in more automobiles – in the medium term, as BMW puts it.
Source: BMW MotorradView gallery - 14 images