HUD Helmet: In-helmet sat nav

Better than a sat nav?

A RUSSIAN start-up is hoping to have a fully-approved motorcycle helmet incorporating a head-up display for GPS navigation on sale by next summer.

LiveMap is using the Indiegogo crowd-funding site to raise $150,000 (US) by July 12, and if it can get enough people to part with their cash it reckons the helmets will start to be delivered come August 2014.

Funding options vary from $1, for which you get, well, nothing other than a ‘thanks’ to $1500 which pre-orders a helmet for you at a $500 saving over the predicted $2000 list price.

Yeah, you read that right. The helmet is planned to cost $2000 (£1295 at today’s exchange rates). Pretty steep, but then it is packed with technology. Not only does it have a head-up display, using a projector mounted in the shell behind your head along with various mirrors to beam a semi-translucent image that hovers in front of your eyes, but it’s also planned to have Bluetooth communications. The actual helmet spec is fairly high, too, with a carbon fibre shell and promises of safety certification in both America and Europe. There’s even talk of integrating a video camera if the funding target is beaten to the tune of $500,000.

At the moment, prototype shell and working electronics prototypes have been made, but there’s still a long way to go. And then there’s the question of whether a directions floating before your eyes will be useful or distracting in practice. The makers are promising a minimalistic graphic appearance on the move to stop it interfering with your vision. The whole thing is to be voice-controlled, so setting destinations or planning diversions can all be done on the move.

It will also be possible to project a more detailed map, or a list of points of interest, but only when stationary or trickling along at very low speed. Being GPS, of course, it will know how fast you’re going and project a speedo in the corner of your vision as well as route directions.

With Google’s ‘Google Glass’ wearable head-up display going on sale late this year or early next, we should probably be getting used to the idea of this sort of technology. But is it a mistake to integrate it into an expensive helmet which could be rendered worthless with a slight spill, or would we be better off just using wearing the Google product under our lids, like a pair of glasses?

You can see the helmet, and offer your financial support if you so wish, here:

Is this sort of thing a lifesaver, helping us keep our sights on the road ahead rather than being distracted by maps or bar-mounted sat-navs? Or will it be another distraction that we could all do without? The floor is yours…