BMW has shown a landmark new helmet system designed to reduce noise inside the helmet and enable crystal clear voice communications and music.
The helmet system brings together BMW design skills from several areas of the company and uses state-of-the-art materials (kevlar, carbon fibre and glass fibre) to create an ultralight, aerodynamic and very quiet helmet - the helmet has been wind-tunnel designed to minimise wind roar and is the quietest flip-up helmet on the market – only 86dB(A) at 100km/h
Inside the helmet is the WCS-1 (Wireless Communication System) - a Bluetooth module, two hidden array microphones, a digital signal processor to filter out interference and cancel wind noise, and two speakers.
All this technology means you can hear inside your helmet again even at very high speeds , so you can have a conversation with your pillion, or via wireless technology with anyone anywhere, or listen to music.
The three-button control panel has been designed for ease-of-use and the system provides several hours of chat on a fully charge.
The system works with Bluetooth enabled phones at present and is clearly a work-in-progress as this version of the system doesn’t work with other Bluetooth devices at this stage. Clearly, the next version will need to connect to other Bluetooth devices such as MP3 players.
There are no prices or release dates planned for the helmet system, and in countries such as Australia were there is a protracted safety testing homologation process, the wait will be a long one.
Interestingly, BMW’s expertise in ergonomics is renowned and as these helmets are fully self-contained and function regardless of the type or brand of the motorcycle, so this is a product that will have universal appeal for all motorcyclists.
Indeed, BMW may just have created motorcycling’s equivalent to Apple’s iPod, which has taken Apple from a much-loved but niche computer company to a global music company inside a short period of time.
Like the iPod, the BMW system (a three button no-brainer) will be very easy to use, and offer compelling functionality to every motorcyclist along with a cool, prestige, high-recognition brand name built in another market.
The system can be expected to become very popular with all types of motorcyclists, and we predict demand will see the functionality offered in a range of styles - perhaps so you can talk to your buddies while trail riding or communicate to from pit to rider in any form of competition.
There will be many other helmet manufacturers following suit with similar products within 12 months, so BMW’s window of opportunity will only be open for a short time. It will be interesting to see how far BMW has moved ahead of the other helmet manufacturers with its technology.