All motorcyclists know that if they take their eyes off the road, even for a split second, bad things can happen. Even some of the latest Head-Up Display (HUD) solutions making their way into motorcycle helmets require you to look up, down or sideways—anywhere but straight—to consume data.
At CES 2016 in Las Vegas, DigiLens with BMW announced and showcased a groundbreaking waveguide display technology to make BMW motorcycle riding as high-tech, enjoyable and safe as possible.
Remember Tony Stark’s visual display in his Iron Man suit? Readouts informed him about variables like his speed and outside temperature, warned of objects in his path, and connected to a database to provide detailed information about the bad guys he was pursuing. All this data was positioned at eye level in a way that did not impede his ability to fly to the rescue.
Our upcoming waveguide technology (expected mid-2017) is a lot like that. It provides a completely immersive, mixed reality experience using augmented reality (AR) to layer vital information with an enhanced field of vision (FOV) without disrupting your concentration on the road.
Features such as GPS, localized speed, traffic warnings, phone communications, engine management, fuel/trip/turn indicators, rear and front recording action camera views, and more can be crisply displayed front and center. Night and fog radar systems can also be built into the system along with AR capabilities that might outline the road ahead along with overlays of local landmarks, restaurants, gas stations and theaters. Voice commands let the rider decide how much or how little they will see on the screen. More importantly, safety measures can be built into the system to alert riders when they face any of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents, such as taking turns too sharply or failing to respond to a car turning in front of them or emerging from a side street.
Pretty cool, right?
The team at DigiLens has essentially created a reference design for a fully integrated computer system with wireless networking, accelerometers and sensors working together to optimize the motorcycle riding experience. Leading motorcycle and helmet manufacturers like BMW will use our design to develop an infinite number of innovative HUD apps, to delight every motorcyclist. They can even tailor applications like police, medical or postal delivery for specific uses.
For example, BMW may be interested to customizing our HUD for police force helmets. The possibilities here are both obvious and endless. Officers could view real-time information about vehicles and motorists they are following without averting their gaze. Cameras embedded in helmet visors could capture incidents and beam them to a central database for easy storage and retrieval. As facial recognition software improves, the helmets could help officers determine whether someone they see on a sidewalk is, in fact, the suspect they were told to look for earlier that morning. What makes this possible is our breakthrough in integrated optics.
Since 2003, we have partnered with military and aerospace customers to deliver optical innovation built around our core holographic nano-materials. For the last several years, we’ve been working to now make that technology functional and affordable enough for enterprise applications like motorcycle helmets. We accomplish this by delivering a comfortable blend of computer generated and real world imagery in a transparent lightweight form factor. By enabling an expanded FOV, long range focus point and intelligent rider cues, our new solution delivers an industry breakthrough for motorcycle HUDs, like that achieved recently with our compact aerospace HUD.
When in full production, the DigiLens HUD motorcycle helmet will probably run about 40% more than regular. Given the added enjoyment and safety benefits, we believe the small added investment will be more than worthwhile for manufacturers, developers and most importantly riders.
More on the amazing BMW “Café Racer” bike and companion BMW Helmet, incorporating DigiLens breakthrough HUD, in the next few days after the CES launch.