Technology enthusiasts have been drooling over a motorcycle helmet called the AR-1 for more than a year. It is not for people who like to feel the wind in their hair.
You can’t own one yet. They aren’t in stores. You can buy one on the internet but don’t expect it to show up at your door anytime soon. It may eventually be actually manufactured by a start up, San Francisco company called Skully Systems. The AR stands for “augmented reality” and it sounds like a most excellent helmet to wear while bar hopping on one of Keanu Reaves’, $78,000, Arch KRGT-1s.
The Skully helmet does not actually exist as a product yet although there have been numerous references to prototypes . The Wall Street Journal and Forbes have given the helmet ink. In one of its four articles about the helmet, Popular Mechanics called it, “The beginning of a motorcycle tech revolution.” Popular Science thinks it is “THE helmet for the digital age.” Road & Track calls the AR-1 “The most anticipated motorcycle helmet ever produced.” CNN lauds its “potential…to save lives, to make out daily existences a little bit easier.”
Tyler Florence, a television chef who likes motorcycles insists, “The future of motorcycle helmets has arrived, a must.”
Heads Up Display
The most notable features of the full face helmet are a 180-degree, rear facing television camera and an itty-bitty screen at the bottom right of your field of view. The helmet connects to your smart phone by Bluetooth and the only limits to what may be displayed on the tiny head up display are in your imagination. The helmet also has a face shield that darkens or lightens at the touch of a button
Potentially you can get voice and map, turn by turn directions to the destination of your choice. Skully says it is working on a new voice recognition feature that will allow you to tell the helmet what you want it to display. And, again potentially, motorcycle racers can see their speed, revolutions, air pressure and the amount of gas in their tanks and an indication of how long it will last without taking their eyes off the road. The batteries that power the display last about nine hours
Skully won’t say how much the helmet weighs which may bother some riders because the weight of a helmet and how that weight is distributedare key factors in neck and spinal injuries that result from motorcycle crashes. The camera, batteries and computer are all contained in a spoiler on the back of the helmet and the spoiler is designed to break off if you crash.
The Skully AR-1 costs $1,299 if you preorder one today. Skully says they will retail for $1,499 starting May 15. If that seems a little steep you can buy a box of “Skully Nation Gear” including a hat, shirt and decals for only $49 that the company will ship to you right away.