New system could bring HUD to more helmets
Chances are that head-up display (HUD) systems are the next big thing in motorcycle helmet tech, with several startups developing such systems. Seemore's HUD module is designed to be factory-fitted to helmets, offering an abundance of features that include a group interaction tool.
The last decade has seen several attempts at bringing in-helmet display systems to the market, starting from the SportVue way back in 2004. Today's offerings range from Reevu's rear view camera display to Intelligent Cranium's tech-laden helmet, and have even attracted the interest of major manufacturers like BMW Motorrad.
Based in Wroclaw, Poland, Seemore is developing a HUD system that puts the rider's smartphone in the center, using its resources to create an augmented reality environment. The module itself contains the display unit, a controller and a battery – all of which are installed inside the helmet. Connecting via Bluetooth to a smartphone app, this HUD transparently displays its information on the upper right corner of the helmet visor.
In contrast with several other HUD solutions that display at the bottom part of the visor, Seemore based its choice on tests ran by the University of Michigan which suggested that humans are able to get information much faster if it is presented at the upper part compared to lower or middle part. Allegedly saving up to 1.5 seconds in information absorption time can make a huge difference while riding at speed.
The display module is placed in the upper front part of the helmet and projects its content through a 10 x 10 x 35 mm (0.4 x 0.4 x 1.4 in) prism. The module is powered by a small battery that's good for up to 12 hours of continuous use and be charged via USB in less than three hours.
According to Seemore's business plan, the kit will not be available directly to the public, but will instead be installed by helmet manufacturers in their models. This choice has been made primarily for safety reasons, since adding electronic components inside a helmet requires scrutiny to ensure that these cannot cause injuries in case of an impact.
Using the smartphone as the brain of the whole operation allows for a variety of features to be displayed. Web and GPS resources are used to project information on current speed, speed limits and camera warnings, traffic information, navigation, and a configurable list of points of interest (petrol stations, parking areas etc). The display can also include notifications of incoming phone calls and text messages, although there is no prevision for calling or replying to calls while riding – which would eventually contradict the very essence of a system designed to help the rider keep their focus on the road at all times.
The basic HUD kit can also support a rear view camera (to be sold separately) which can be placed on the motorcycle and connect wirelessly via Bluetooth to transfer its panoramic view to the display.
Finally, a very interesting and innovative feature serves group interaction by displaying information on the location of every member of the group, and distances between members. Should one rider lose the rest of the pack, the navigation will come automatically on and inform on the whereabouts of the others.
For the time being this is all the information available on the Seemore HUD. The smartphone app has not been released yet, but we do know that it will be available for both iOS and Android devices. The first commercially available helmet with the Seemore module is expected in mid-2017.
"Right now we are discussing with three major European helmet manufacturers. The price of the kit is still under discussion with them, so I can't share more at this moment," said Seemore CEO, Grzegorz Palmer to New Atlas.