The new ReconJet heads-up display (HUD) eyewear is coming to the UK and Ireland next year. It’s essentially a computer that you wear.
We first reported on the ReconJet eyewear, made by Recon Instruments, a couple of months ago. In short, what you get here is a pair of glasses aimed specifically at cyclists, with a small display that you can glance down at with your right eye. The glasses feature GPS and on-board sensors to measure the variables of your ride, along with connectivity to third party sensors and smartphones. You also get a video and stills high-definition camera, a microphone and a speaker.
The idea is that the display sits very low in your line of sight, a little like the dashboard of a car. Most of the time you look at the road over the top of the display, just glancing down when you need to without the need to move your head.
The technology is already used in Oakley Airwave ski/snowboard goggles, for which Recon Instruments provided the know-how. In this case, you get your speed, the temperature, maps and so on displayed on a tiny screen fitted inside the goggles. It is said to be similar to looking at a 14in monitor from a distance of 5ft.
The ReconJet offers you data like speed, pace, your ride time and your vertical ascent – so key variables. It can also use both ANT+ and Bluetooth protocols to talk wirelessly to third party devices – heart rate monitors, power meters, cadence meters and suchlike.
On top of that, you can connect to an iPhone or an Android phone, get call display and even surf the internet (although, obviously, that’s not a great idea when you’re actually riding on the road). You navigate around the pages using what Recon describe as an ‘optical touchpad’. You swipe your fingers – either with or without gloves – across the little pad on the glasses to move about.
The ReconJet glasses weigh 60g. To put that in context, a pair of fairly standard Northwave Blade sunglasses that we recently tested weighed 25g. You notice the difference in weight, but the ReconJets aren’t uncomfortably heavy.
From February, Recon Instruments products will be distributed in the UK and Ireland by Madison. The company handle many big brands including Shimano, Garmin, GoPro and Lazer. The ReconJet should arrive in the first quarter of the year. A price has yet to be set although the US price, for what it's worth, is $599 (currently £371). Don't expect the UK price to be exactly that but, you know, a US price is better than nothing.
“This may all seem futuristic to some but wearable technology is here right now and will become as invaluable in our lives as the smartphone in your pocket,” said Madison’s CEO Dominic Langan.
The ReconJet has obvious parallels with the Google Glass wearable computer (below) that’s currently being developed. That too has an optical head-mounted display.
There have been rumours on both sides of the Atlantic suggesting that governments might ban drivers from using Google Glass while behind the wheel. That said, Google Glass isn’t widely available yet and driving while using it hasn’t been made illegal anywhere yet. Whether any bans will be introduced, and whether such bans would extend to cycling with broadly similar technology, nobody can say for sure at the moment. The ReconJet might fall into a different category in that it's a sports/performance accessory rather than a more general lifestyle product, who knows?
While we're on the safety issue... The display on the ReconJet is positioned on the right lens. When you ride on the left-hand side of the road like we do in the UK, you most commonly check the traffic over your right shoulder, correct? Not all the time, but mostly. We've tried on the ReconJet glassesbut we've not ridden in them so we could be wrong, but it seems to us that it would be better for us UKers to have the display on the left lens to reduce the possibility of obscuring vision when checking back. Maybe. Just a thought. We might be entirely mistaken, but we're just flagging it up as a question, really.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.