Monday, March 17, 2014

Forget The Glass And Get A Helmet

It may feel like a lifetime since I gave up my Softtail, but there are seldom any days that I don't think about it. There are no shortage of enticements. Maybe it's only a matter of time before I get it back.

The latest enticement comes not in the form of a motorcycle, but rather the accessories. There are a dozen or so companies pioneering augmented reality technology, and one of them is specializing in head protection. And, truth be told, this helmet goes a long way in protecting more than your head.

Skully makes motorcycles a necessity. 

The Skully AR-1 is the first vertically integrated smart Heads-Up display (HUD) motorcycle helmet that will be made available for consumers. It includes a smart platform that is specially designed to enhance the awareness of the rider with advanced optics, cameras and sensors.

This includes some pretty exciting assets, such as a full 180-degree rear view camera that minimizes the need to take your eyes off the road to check your back before changing lanes. And while the rear view screen likely takes a little getting used to — given that it's set in the lower right corner — it's only on when you need it.

There are plenty of other displays that will capture your attention. The helmet sports GPS navigation, music and phone call interface, and traffic condition updates. You'll immediately get it in less than a minute.

Running down the list of its game-changing features does much more than sell the helmet. It opens new possibilities and sets a new pace for augmented reality. It goes beyond merely morphing a smart phone into another glass interface. It makes the future of augmented reality function specific.

The Skully helmet is equipped with a Synapse integrated HUD that provides advanced situational awareness. This enhances several important areas for awareness such as neat-future navigation and blind spot data. By providing these details to the rider, it's easier to stay focused on the road ahead.

Beyond blind spots, the helmet opens up new possibilities in keeping track of dangers just behind you. It's about time someone developed a crystal clear rear view camera for the helmet. Combined with GPS maps, the Skully helmet is like having a dedicated co-pilot that will never be distracted.

While the helmet itself has several dedicated functions, it does tap into your smart phone with voice control. The Bluetooth and Internet connectivity with a smart phone is pretty seamless. You can control your music, phone calls, and text messages. Or you can simply call up a new destination.

A couple of graphs about the people behind the helmet. 

The company was founded by Marcus Weller just last year. Weller, who was just recently a management consultant and industrial psychologist in the automotive and semiconductor industries, blended his passion for human-centered technology and motorcycles. It was a smart decision, moving him from assisting in the research of intelligent transportation systems at the University of Minnesota to bringing those concepts to life.

Along with Weller, Skully Helmets enlisted a team to round out its skill sets. These include co-founders Gary Iwatani (finance and operations), Mike Turquette (software development), Andrw Schirmer (design and engineering), Dipak Patel (heads-up display specialist), and Mitchell Weller (human resources). Go aheads and put these names on your watch list. We expect great things from them.

Skully Helmets Leap Ahead 8.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Skully Helmets have the potential to have nines written all over them if the company can capture the right price point and master quality production. At the moment, the Skully helmet is confined to beta-testing only and the waiting list (as you might imagine) is impossibly long.

If you want to take your chances to get in on the ground floor, sign up to see if you qualify to become an approved tester before the official launch in 2014. We'll update outlet links later this year, after the official launch of Skully Helmets. The company recently won the coveted SXSW Accelerator Award in the Wearable Technology category. It was well deserved too.

Rich Becker contributed to this review, particularly in his assessment of the emerging AR field.
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