BMW, Skully Unveil Next Generation Motorcycle Helmets

Heads up, motorcycle riders – literally. BMW garnered some serious attention at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past weekend with the unveiling of its next-generation helmet, complete with a built-in heads-up display.

In terms of looks, BMW’s Motorrad helmet has a sleek, modern design with a few extra features – Namely a GoPro-like, forward-facing camera embedded in the top of the helmet and a rear-facing camera that’s used much like a virtual rear-view mirror when the heads-up display is in use.

The display feature shows the rider an array of information including speed, fuel level, gear and temperature. An advanced system known as V2V integration boosts rider safety by showing approaching road signs and warning of upcoming dangers on the roadways. Information is visible via a glass display piece that sits just in front of the right eye. Functions are activated by controls on the left handlebar and riders can record their rides with the front-facing camera. Such footage increasingly is being used in personal campaigns to help educate passenger vehicle drivers of the need to pay more attention to motorcyclists sharing the roadways and to provide proof of the occasional rogue cop.

BMW does have a bit of competition, though. Skully Helmets, Inc. recently hit the market with its own augmented reality helmet, featuring a heads-up display and 180-degree blind spot camera operated via Android platform-based software controlled with voice commands. An idea borne of founder and CEO Marcus Weller’s July 2010 crash in Barcelona. Riding in unfamiliar territory, Weller had taken his eyes off the road for mere seconds to read a street sign. Soon after, he put his extensive motorcycle experience and his PhD in Industrial Psychology to use in developing the Skully, touted as the first augmented reality helmet. You can buy yours online for $1,499.

E3 Spark Plugs supports any new technology designed to keep riders and drivers safe on the roadways. Kudos to both companies.