Skully Helmets introduces a true “Heads Up Display” (HUD) helmet for riders in 2014 and they are looking for beta testers. (A link on how to apply is included in this article)
By Mark DT
Skully Hemlets has just announced their new futuristic motorcycle helmet with a built-in 180-degree rear-view camera. The design of the Skully P1 is very slick and the camera at the back of the helmet blends nicely in with the overall shape of the helmet. The aerodynamic design has been made with a focus on reducing wind noise in the helmet. Personally, as a present day airline pilot with past experience with HUD on commercial aircraft, I welcome this technology finally being made available to all motorcycle riders.
The Skully Helmet is designed to pair with your smartphone. It allows you to give voice-activated commands to make phone calls, send texts, play songs and set your destinations – all hands free. It will give you directions, tell you the weather and let you know if there is an incoming phone call. You can connect to both iOS and Android devices. (See the video below for a demonstration.)
I hope to get a chance to try this out for myself. My own experience with Apple’s SIRI and Ford’s hands-free interface have been mixed. We recently added a new Ford Focus ST to our garage with hands-free and “My Ford Touch”. The music and telephone interface by voice are seamless but voice manipulation of the Ford’s GPS is cumbersome. Most times I end up using the touch screen with the built-in GPS, same as with my motorcycle’s Zumo device. However, the hands free dialing, and asking for one of 1900 songs I’ve got stored to play by voice command have made it an overall welcome new feature for me.
The Heads-Up Display (HUD) system on the inside of the helmet’s visor gives you a 180-degree view of what’s going on behind you and in your blind spots. The display can also show you a GPS map and a voice will give you directions. The helmet meets the safety standards for both the U.S. DOT and European ECE.
The Battery gives you 9 hours of playtime
The lithium ion battery will last you nine hours of continuous use, which is a full day of riding for most people. Recharging the battery is done with a standard micro-USB cable.
HUD a Distraction or an Asset?
While we all like to think more information is a good thing, experienced riders understand that distractions and target fixation can be deadly. The Skully Helmet presents new temptations to lose road focus and would not be recommended for new riders IMHO. It could take the focus away from traffic when you have a digital voice telling you when to turn and a constant image of the road behind you in your field of vision.
For an intermediate or experienced rider who is very comfortable with riding in all types of weather and traffic, I believe the Skully Helmet may become your new best friend on rides. Music in my experience when played at reasonable volumes reduces rider fatigue. I have found using a GPS to navigate allows you to keep your eyes on the road, rather than way down on a paper map in the clear screen of your tank bag. I believe all of the functions offered by the Skully Helmet may ultimately make riding safer, but only if you are a competent rider to begin with.
[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]If this new Skully Helmet can bring navigation, communication and music to riding while introducing HUD and hands free operation, then I expect they will be both successful and widely imitated by other manufacturers.[/pullquote]
A false sense of security?
Motorcyclists need a strong survival instinct on the road or else they will end up getting hurt. With no airbags, cage, etc. riders know that their riding skills and attention to the road are their only means to stay safe.
Unfortunately, we have seen drivers of cars lose that sense of vulnerability each time cars get safer. First we saw airbags, ABS, and stability control make cars safer for drivers and passengers. Now rear-cameras and blind spot warnings are showing up in many new cars and SUVs. These tools while increasing road safety can also give drivers a false sense of security. This can lead to some very dangerous new habits by inept drivers. (e.g. Why hypothetically bother shoulder checking when my new German super-car warns me someone is in my blind-spot?) While I believe that this helmet will be used by most riders to increase their overall situational awareness, I can’t help but worry that it may lead to the odd rider getting lazy with shoulder checks, mirror monitoring etc. Let’s hope that motorcyclists will make good use of the best features of this helmet to supplement and not replace their road sense.
All this being said; none of us who have owned a car with airbags, ABS, or stability control are normally willing to buy another without the same features. Skully may be on the cusp of developing the next indispensable technology item for riders, as I expect once word of mouth spreads of the benefit of HUD, everyone will want to have it for themselves.
An end to rear end accidents?
One place where I would really like this rear view feature is when I am at a red light. I constantly check my mirrors when waiting at a red light until I get a few vehicles stopped behind me. The rear view HUD projected on my visor is a feature I could see myself using each and every time I stop at a traffic light.
Skully Helmet instead of mirror extenders?
On my old Kawasaki Versys mirror extenders were one of the first farkles I ordered. On my wife’s baby Ninja she often complains that she needs to tuck in her elbows for a clear view from the mirrors, but doesn’t want to add mirror extenders to her motorcycle as it will negatively change its appearance. The Skully Helmet with rear view HUD could well be a solution to motorcycles where the mirrors seem more about fashion than function.
I have found using intercoms, GPS, and riding with music to all enhance the riding experience. If this new Skully Helmet can bring navigation, communication and music to riding while introducing HUD and hands free operation, then I expect they will be both successful and widely imitated by other manufacturers.
Become a beta-tester for Skully
The Skully P1 Helmet will be available in the spring of 2014 after the beta-testing is complete. If you are interested in becoming a beta-tester for the Skully P1 Helmet, submit your application here:
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