SHOEI has shown a new prototype helmet with an integrated heads-up display (HUD).
What are the advantages of Shoei’s new experimental, prototype helmet, the Opticson, which has an integrated heads-up display in its visor?
Shoei is a well-known motorcycle helmet manufacturer that protects riders like Marc Marquez, Toprak Razgatlioglu, and John McGuinness.
With its latest prototype, the Opticson, which includes an integrated HUD, the business is bringing new technologies to its helmets.
Of course, head-up displays are not a new element in the vehicle business. HUDs have been around for a long in cars, but their introduction to motorcycle helmets is a recent development.
While the windscreen and thus the HUD does not move in a car, the windscreen and thus the HUD do in a motorbike helmet. And, whereas the HUD in a car is relatively far away from the driver’s eyes, it is quite close on a motorbike helmet. Scaling the display while ensuring that it does not obstruct the rider’s view of the road is a difficult task.
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This technique has a huge potential for improving safety. Riders wouldn’t have to take their eyes off the road to view the information the bike provides using a helmet-integrated HUD. At the same time, the HUD must not be so distracting that the rider’s ability to ride safely is compromised.
There are also potential applications in racing, as Race Direction and Team signals have lately begun to appear on riders’ dashboards in the World Championships. Even at maximum lean, when the rider is hanging far off the bike and unable to see the onboard dashboard, an integrated HUD would allow the rider to see the onboard dashboard.
Race Direction or team messages might be delivered to the rider, which could be advantageous for both safety and performance. Of course, in this circumstance, making the dash as unobtrusive and distracting as possible is critical.
Francesco Bagnaia, 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix.
There’s also the possibility that a rider will miss a yellow flag board as Francesco Bagnaia did in Portimao qualifying last season, the first of two visits to the Algarve in 2021. Bagnaia was approaching turn nine, where a yellow flag had been placed for Miguel Oliveira’s crash a few moments before, but the Italian missed it since the yellow flag board was on the right-hand side, which was opposite the side on which Bagnaia was hanging off the bike.
The only cost, in this case, was Bagnaia’s possible pole position lap, but the outcome may have been far worse in another circumstance. In this case, as well as when there is a red flag in a pack race, where several riders are close together and missing a yellow or even red flag is easy, an integrated HUD could be beneficial.
It’s unclear how long Shoei will take to bring this technology to a production model, if at all, but it’s clear that it has the potential to improve ergonomics, performance, and, most crucially, safety.