By Scot Harden
I recently attended the US product launch for Nuviz’s new Head Up Display (HUD) device. Head Up Display (HUD) devices have long been rumored for motorcycle riding applications with some false starts and no-shows already logged by other HUD start-ups so its nice to see HUD technology for motorcycles finally delivered to the marketplace. Nuviz is based in Finland and staffed by a team of passionate motorcycle enthusiasts and tech engineers. They’ve taken full advantage of the large pool of talented and experienced former Nokia techs and engineers who, due to recent cutbacks by Nokia, have been freed up to turn their talents to the development of more important technologies. And from our perspective, what could be more important than technologies that enhance the sport of motorcycling? So what exactly is a Nuviz? Well, think of it as your motorcycle’s dashboard, GPS, communications/entertainment system and Go Pro all rolled into one device. All this utility and functionality is now available by command through a translucent display mounted on the chin bar just above the rider’s lower right field of vision. HUD technology has been used for years in jet fighters and more recently in cars where the data is projected onto the windshield. Its utlity is clear in these domains but will it transfer to a two-wheel platform? I recently tested the Nuviz and here is what I found:
The Nuviz HUD is elegantly designed and available for purchase directly through their corporate website www.ridenuviz.com
1.) Design and Mounting. The Nuviz mounts to the right side chin bar and admittedly is larger and more bulky than what most riders would ultimately prefer from a design aesthetic but its important to remember two things: 1.) There is a ton of technology and utility packed inside and 2.) It’s sure to only get smaller as further design improvements are made. The Nuviz attaches with sticky mounts and can be transferred from helmet to helmet by purchasing additional mounting kits. Mounting the system is pretty straightforward. With your helmet on, line up the sticky mount and attach it to the unit attach so that the translucent prism appears just above the chin bar and can be fully seen just to the right of the centerline of the helmet. For street helmets or any helmet with a built in visor the process is straightforward. For off-road helmets you will need to make sure you also wear your goggles before attaching the device or you will mount it too low and the goggle frame will obstruct your field of view of the display. Don’t worry about the angle of the camera as it can be adjusted by means of a ball joint to gain the desired view setting. Once installed viewing the screen quickly becomes second nature with minimal eye movement required. We will discuss attention deficit and potential rider distraction issues at the end of this review.
This shot provides a great example of how the Nuviz attaches to the helmet. Note the display prism is just to right of center and just below your normal line of sight.
2.) Set-Up and Operation. The device is very easy to operate and is one of the more streamlined high tech devices we’ve encountered recently in terms of its set-up and operation. The first thing you need to do is download the Nuviz app to your IOS or Android device. After pairing the Nuviz HUD and the controller to your IPhone or Android, the 800 X 480 pixel viewer delivers information via five different screens that are all modulated by the remote controller mounted to the left handlebar. The kit comes with a wide range of controller mounting options and once again you can purchase additional controller mounts for any additional bikes you may have in your stable. The five screens include a dashboard screen to show speed and time of day, a screen for incoming phone calls, a music screen, a photo/video screen and a GPS screen. Within each of these screens there are additional layers of information available including the battery status. The Nuviz also comes with a hardwired speaker system including a mic.
Here is a POV rendering showing the MapView and VideoRec function. Speed, time of day, recording time and direction are all shown.
3.) Performance. So how does the darn thing work? In short it works quite well. Yes, it is a little bulky at 8.5 ounces and as mentioned previously could be considered a detraction from a design aesthetic but not any more so than mounting a Go Pro Hero. One reason for the size (and weight) is that the unit comes with a replaceable 3250-mAH battery claimed to deliver 8 hours of light use and 3.5 to 6.5 hours of heavy photo and video use. This is very important for those of you that are familiar with the limited battery life of some other video and personal communication devices. The video and photo quality are very good, on par with Go Pro, and the fact that you can view what you are actually shooting in real time on the translucent display screen, plus the fact you can also verify whether or not the unit is actually recording is a real bonus. How many times have you shot that killer video sequence or photo only to discover the camera wasn’t pointed correctly or that you didn’t activate it properly? Phone calls and music listening are all accommodated through the system.
The only complaint I have is in regards to the speakers supplied with the system. At highway speeds they just don’t work as well as we would like. Although they work quite well at slower speeds once you get over 55 mph it becomes very hard to hear clearly through them. In addition the noise cancellation feature built into the mic performs at a level less than desired and not quite as well as some other helmet communications systems we’ve tested. The good news is that the Nuviz comes equipped to run wireless speaker systems as well and weve tested with Jaybird X3 wireless speakers and they work great. Everything else seems to be extremely well thought out. The controller mounts easily and operates on a very intuitive level and it doesn’t take very much practice to become familiar with its operation. The only things you need to look out for are for is that the display cube can be knocked off while riding. Be careful if you reach up to adjust the display prism that you don’t accidently pull or knock it off. You may want to use a small piece of tape to secure it. Also pay extra attention when mounting the controller. When in doubt use an extra zip-ty or stickie to mount it securely.
This POV shows the Music function. Again the Nuviz could benefit from a better speaker system but Bluetooth ear buds will easily solve this problem.
4.) Cost. The $64,000 question, or perhaps more appropriately the $699 question, for most is does the Nuviz technology enhance the ride experience, or does it just complicate or perhaps worse yet create a serious safety issue due to rider distraction? Some purists will argue that motorcycles offer the only true break from the day-to-day intrusions technology has already made in our lives and for that reason alone introducing more technology into the riding experience is a negative to be avoided at all costs. It’s hard to argue with this logic, especially from a purist point of view, but then again if you are a hardcore adventure or off road/dual sport rider you are probably already managing a GPS and Go Pro at the very least. It’s been our experience at Upshift that most adventure riders are pretty savvy about these things and for them the Nuviz actually provides a unified platform solution for managing these devices. As for it being a possible distraction and creating potential rider safety issues there is certainly that possibility but we don’t see where it is any more distractive than using other existing devices such as GPSs, Go Pros, and/or any other external communication systems while operating the motorcycle. In the end it really comes down to individual rider choice, comfort level and competency. One clear advantage for the Nuviz HUD is the lack of distance between line of sight to the devices and the road ahead. No more need to look down away from the road when using the Nuviz. Based on this factor alone we think it may actually be a safety advantage especially if you are already integrating GPS and video recording into your ride experience.
Summary: The Nuviz HUD does not come cheaply but when you consider that it combines what were once several previously separate devices the value proposition holds up well. You can easily spend twice as much on three or four devices to acquire the same functionality so it’s really up to you. No matter how you measure it though Nuviz is off to a great start. They’ve got a great product, it’s already in the market, and they’ve promised additional functionality and improvements with future software releases(the first software update in fact just came out). Based on what we’ve seen so far Nuviz is out of the blocks with a clear holeshot when it comes to HUD devices for motorcycles. The only thing we might suggest on future devices is offer a rear view camera option as a safety option…………….and so they can keep track of their competition.