DigiLens partners with Sena to produce augmented reality motorcycle helmets
Augmented Reality HUD display manufacturer DigiLens has revealed a new version of its waveguide HUD unit that is thinner, lighter, easier to manufacture and notably cheaper than its previous technology. The Silicon Valley startup has also announced a partnership with Bluetooth giant Sena to potentially build motorcycle helmets with integrated audio-visual HUD systems.
The new MonoHUD unit uses only two inkjet-coated lens layers, which the company claims makes the eyepieces crystal-clear to look through while still being capable of 8,000-nit daytime levels of brightness in a full color, 640 x 360-pixel display with an eight-hour battery life and an AR field of view covering 25 degrees worth of one eye's visual field.
The company describes its display as "an extraordinarily high-index modulation photopolymer" that can "record 'Bragg gratings' into waveguides with integrated optical features required for high-performance displays" with sub-millisecond on/off switch speeds that should make for a snappy display.
DigiLens, riding on some US$60 million of investment, US$25 million of which came from Continental in Germany, has immediately earmarked the technology for use in motorcycle helmet HUD systems.
To that end, the company claims it's partnering with Young Optics, as well as Bluetooth specialist Sena, which has just just launched its first smart helmet range with integrated communications, the Momentum series.
An AR eyepiece to display navigation prompts, speed, media track and incoming caller notifications would appear to be a good fit for the Sena helmets, which already do Bluetooth audio and smartphone integration very well.
On the other hand, despite the reported reanimation of the Skully company, as well as NUVIZ, Intelligent Cranium, CrossHelmet, BikeHUD, and a raft of other endeavors, nobody seems to have been able to make the idea of a motorcycle HUD stick yet. Customers will have to pay a hefty premium for the pleasure of a small information display, and apart from visual navigation cues, there's not much they can display that's not already on the dash or fairly trivial.
It also remains to be seen how these devices will handle wet/cold weather fogging, extended use in moist breathy environments, and the ever-present danger of being banged on the road.
Still, it's good to see the tech itself improving, particularly in terms of affordability, and it'll be interesting to see how it all gets integrated into a full audio-visual riding system.
Check out the MonoHUD unit in the video below.