May 25, 2007 In a move that could spell the end of meditative "zen" motorcycling, Dainese is looking for beta testers for their D-Nect helmet to helmet communication system, which allows riders and pillions as far as 400m apart to converse with each other on group rides. A limited number of purchasers of the new Airstream Course Infinity helmet, which features the innovative bluetooth/short range radio communication system, will be able to have direct input into the development of the system - and Dainese will shout all beta testers a bluetooth mobile phone for their assistance.
Dainese's Infinity system is a clever combination of existing technologies - short range radio allows direct communication between riders as they scoot along, and Bluetooth kicks in to allow effective mobile phone use on the road, blocking out radio listeners to maintain privacy of the phone call.
The ride group can be of unlimited size - only 3 people can be talking at any one time, but anyone wearing an Infinity-equipped helmet within 400m will be able to listen in.
Motorcycling has traditionally been an odd sort of social activity - large groups of people often get together to participate in what has always been a completely solo sport - even when there's a pillion on your back seat, you've been unable to communicate until you hop off the bike. Many bikers will tell you that complete silence from their partner has been one of their favourite parts of riding.
Still, one of the unfortunate deficiencies of group touring has always been that if one member knows something interesting about an area, or spots a road hazard, or (ahem) sees a police car or has an accident, they're unable to tell the rest of the group. And for these reasons, helmet-to-helmet communications have the ability to enrich group tours and add to their safety - as long as they can be switched off when (ahem) full concentration is required.
It will be interesting, as such technologies become affordable and propagate through the motorcycling world, how they affect the culture of motorcycling. At least for the purists, there's always the off button!
Riders interested in becoming part of the Dainese Infinity beta testing team should see the Airstream Course Infinity helmet at the Dainese website.