Shoei's new prototype helmet features a built-in heads up display

Shoei’s new experimental, prototype helmet, the Opticson, comes with an integrated heads up display in its visor, so what are the benefits?

Shoei Opticson helmet. - Ride Apart.

SHOEI have unveiled a new prototype helmet which features a built-in heads up display (HUD).

 
Shoei is one of the leading helmet brands in motorcycling, and they provide head protection to the likes of Marc Marquez, Toprak Razgatlioglu, and John McGuinness. 

Now, the brand is bringing new technology to its helmets, with its latest prototype, the Opticson, featuring an integrated HUD. 

HUDs are no new feature in the automotive industry, of course. HUDs began appearing in cars quite a while ago now, but their introduction to motorcycle helmets is certainly a new innovation.

While, in a car, the windscreen and therefore the HUD does not move, in a motorcycle helmet, of course, it does. And, while, in a car, the HUD is quite far from the eyes of the driver, in a motorcycle helmet it is, in comparison, quite close. Scaling the display while ensuring it is not disruptive to the rider’s vision of the road is not a straightforward thing. 

The potential for this technology to improve safety is not insignificant. With a helmet-integrated HUD, riders would not have to take their eyes off the road to read the information the bike is giving to them. However, at the same time, the HUD must not be too distracting that it impairs the rider’s ability to ride safely. 

There are also possible applications in racing, where more recently Race Direction messages, and those from the team, have begun appearing on riders’ dashboard in the World Championships. An integrated HUD would mean that - even at maximum lean, when the rider is hanging far off the bike and unable to see the on-board dashboard - the rider would be able to be notified of and Race Direction or team messages, which could be beneficial for both safety and performance. Of course, again, making the dash not too intrusive or distracting would be key in this scenario. 

There is also the event of a rider missing a yellow flag board, like Francesco Bagnaia did in Portimao qualifying last season when MotoGP made its first of two visits to the Algarve in 2021. Bagnaia was tipping into turn nine where there was a yellow flag for Miguel Oliveira’s crash a few moments earlier, but, because the yellow flag board was on the right-hand side - the opposite side to the one which Bagnaia was hanging off the bike - the Italian missed it.

On this occasion, the only cost was Bagnaia’s potential pole position lap, but in another scenario the result could have been worse. An integrated HUD could be of benefit in this situation, as it could when there is a red flag in a pack race, where many riders are close together and missing a yellow or even red flag can be easily done. 

It remains to be seen how long it takes Shoei to bring this technology to a production model, or if it does at all, but it is for sure that it brings potential benefits, for ergonomics, performance and, most importantly, safety.

Lead image courtesy of Ride Apart.