Distraction, disruption, destruction. While enjoying a ride, you check your GPS, or check your six, and just at that moment an oncoming car decides to make a quick turn right in your path, or a car comes at speed out of a side road. Proper gear is important to survive in such situations, but avoiding them is even better. Enter the Skully AR-1 augmented reality helmet, with a voice-controlled heads-up display (HUD) that provides rear and side view video, bike data, GPS instructions, and phone and music utilities.

The Skully AR-1 is not the only augmented reality helmet aimed at motorcycle riders; others are under development by Reevu and LiveMap , and companies like NuViz are working on add-on HUD displays for existing helmets. However, these are generally expected to be on the market in a year or two, while Skully is currently nearing its first production runs.

So what does the Skully AR-1 bring to the table? Safety being first, this ultra high performance full-face motorcycle helmet is rigorously tested to ensure it meets both DOT (Department of Transport) and ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) safety standards. Wind tunnel testing defined the shape of the lightweight, aerodynamic fiberglass shell, while inner padding keeps the helmet comfortable and in place in the most extreme conditions.

Beyond safety and good lines, the AR-1 helmet offers a transparent Android-driven HUD display projected on the lower right side of the helmet's visor. The helmet's sensor array includes a rear view camera with a 180 degree field of view, allowing the rider to concentrate on the road ahead while still maintaining situational awareness. Also included are an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a thermometer, and a compass.

The HUD display can also be used to display (and voice) GPS navigational directions, display maps, and interact with a Bluetooth-equipped smartphone. The GPS display comes with two interfaces, one very simple to indicate the occasional turn, while the other is reserved for more complex trips. All control is hands-free, based on voice recognition software.

The Skully AR-1 appears to be a well integrated package of safety, functionality, and good looks. The one extra I would like to see is a smartphone app with a Bluetooth dongle that could connect to the bike's instrumentation, which would then be made available on the HUD. I'm hoping it is already in the works.

Anyone can sign up as a potential beta tester for the Skully AR-1. The company's criteria for selection are not known, but it is safe to say that, given the expected US$1,000 retail price, more attention will probably be given folks who ride serious bikes.

The company introduces the AR-1 in the video below.

Source: Skully Helmets