In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS.
A Russian startup company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists.
Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition.
Weaving in and out of traffic can test the patience of the best bike riders, especially if they have to stop by the road to look at the map or use a GPS to get directions.
Andrei Artishchev, chief executive of LiveMap, said, "If we talk about security, it would be right to do the helmet so that a man could navigate without stopping by the side of the road and having to type a new address on his mobile phone, but making it by voice, for example, just saying 'Madison Avenue,' and the computer replies, 'The route is set up.' "
Some visor-mounted devices already exist that make navigation easier. But LiveMap is creating a smart helmet with navigation and voice-recognition systems built into the helmet.
The prototype features a translucent color display that’s projected onto the visor in the center of the field of vision and with a voice-controlled interface. The helmet’s display features a light sensor that adjusts image brightness and features tools to track head movements.
Artishchev said he was inspired to create it seven years ago, when he saw a pilot's helmet with built-in navigation. He decided to create a similar helmet but at a lower price.
"An aviation helmet costs between $10,000 to $15,000 because it is not a mass-market product. I want to sell the helmet for $2,000," Artishchev said.
Artishchev consulted several Russian optics specialists before embarking on the project. He used Android and Google glass technologies to make the headgear convenient.
"Maybe for military pilots and their tasks it is enough to have everything shown in green color. But when I just started to work on the project I thought that it would be difficult to explain to a mass consumer who has been using a multicolor mobile phone for years why his helmet costing $2,000 has only green color while his mobile telephone has 16 million colors," he said.
A prototype of a helmet with a built-in navigation system, called Skully, has already been introduced by an American company.
Anatoly Sukhov, editor-in-chief of Moto Magazine Russia, said that helmet is not the same thing as the version LiveMap is creating.
"There is a difference in their parameters. The American helmet is much heavier. I think its weight is almost 2 kilograms, and the Russian one weighs 1.4 kilograms. So, this is a very big difference. Anything that weighs more than 1.5 kilograms is not a helmet," Sukhov said.
The Russian entrepreneur hopes to launch his smart helmet within the next year or two in English-language markets. It will cost $2,000, but it can be preordered now for $1,500.