Motorcycle HUDs incorporated into helmets promised to bring the next generation of technology to riders. Just nine months ago, we took a look at the present and future of Motorcycle HUDs and it’s around now that we should have been reviewing these new products. Instead, all three competing products are either delayed or worse. So is the dream of Motorcycle HUD’s turning into just that – a dream?
The biggest name in Motorcycle HUD’s is the Skully AR-1 which unlike the competition, incorporates the HUD into a specially made helmet. After previewing the helmet for some time, Skully launched a crowdfunding campaign to gauge interest in the product. It was a huge success with Skully raising $2.4 million on Indiegogo.
With confirmation of demand, Skully then secured over $11 million in funding from the likes of Intel Capital and Techstars. Delivery was to be next month. That has now been pushed back until December 2015 at the earliest – and without any official announcement from Skully. We first heard of the delay when a reader messaged our site, letting us know that the pre-order delivery date as listed on their webpage had changed to the end of year.
As it currently stands, it’s believed that not a single motorcycle journalist has had access to the helmet to use in a live situation – nor even seen a production model. If that’s true, it makes the likelihood of a finished and certified product unlikely by the end of the year. Even perhaps more worrying is that Skully has supposedly contracted a budget Chinese manufacturer to build the actual helmets – perhaps not the best news to hear given the asking price of $1,500.
But Skully is by no means the only company to fail to deliver on its promises. Nuviz and their Ride:HUD have perhaps had an even more disappointing result. Nuviz seemed quite promising – not only was their product a more realistic offering (it was a device that would be attached to any helmet, rather than an incorporated system), it was backed by a company with some actual history.
The Nuviz company is actually a joint venture between HOLOEYE Photonics and APX Labs. HOLOEYE designs and develops heads up displays for applications such as air force pilots and more recently, soldiers on the ground. They’ve been in business since 1998. APX Labs do equally impressive work but focus more on the software side of things, but again with application to heads up displays.
Yet, late last year, Nuviz refunded all their Kickstarter backers, with the reasoning being that they were encountering design & production delays. A single post appeared on their Facebook page just a fortnight ago with the following:
We simply wanted to let you all know that, yes, we are more alive than ever and we won’t stop until we achieved the very best Head-Up Display solution for your motorcycle helmet. Going forward, our focus will be on product development and delivering you the ultimate user experience. We look forward to taking you along on this exciting ride and really appreciate your continued support!
While the door is still open, it’s fair to say that the Nuviz RIDE:Hud is currently vaporware.
As it stands, the only Motorcycle HUD you can buy is the Bike-HUD, which has now been available for a number of years. We’ve voiced our issues with the design of the Bike-HUD previously and thankfully, a second generation system is underway – the Bike-HUD Adventure. Although they experienced a failed Kickstarter campaign to help with funding the new model, we understand that the company is still attempting to get the product to market before the end of the year.
All of this shows how difficult a technology this is to get to market. But it also illustrates the dangers of over promising and under delivering. Even if the Skully AR-1 does come to market, we have serious doubts of the viability of a $1,500 helmet. It will take many, many years for that price to come down to a level people are willing to pay at a mass market level.
But perhaps an even bigger indication as to the viability of these products is the fact that not a single established helmet manufacturer has shown an interest in Motorcycle HUD’s. Bell, Arai, Shoei and so forth with their many millions of dollars and established history in motorcycle helmet manufacture have not given any indication they are building, let alone designing heads-up displays for motorcycles.
That either means that there’s no profit in it or that there’s no real advantage in such devices. And unfortunately for now, it’s had to prove them wrong with actual hardware.