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High-tech wearable computer will be available next year

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.

For more details on the ReconJet, go to our original story or check out www.reconinstruments.com.

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.

20 comments

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wildoo [40 posts] 3 years ago
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I guess this is the future but to be honest anyone wearing these will look like a nerd!

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Mat Brett [628 posts] 3 years ago
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Maybe. We're not sure if it's the future or not. We were just having a chat about this in the office.

Some of us were resistant to mobile phones when they first arrived for fear of being constantly bothered and never getting any peace and quiet. Dave said he never thought he'd use a tablet (of the computer variety)... until he got one, and now he can't put it down.

We're not sure if it's the Next Big Thing or not. We're keeping an open mind. Or, put another way, we haven't got a clue. Guess we'll find out soon enough.

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jollygoodvelo [1539 posts] 3 years ago
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True that we usually check for traffic over the right shoulder. Google Glass would have a similar problem.

I suspect that they are both mounted on the right eye because a) two thirds of people are right-eye dominant (and therefore focus quicker and clearer, etc), and b) 90% of people are right-handed and can control it better.

Since seeing the Google Glass demo on the Gadget Show I really want a pair.

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Foulplay [3 posts] 3 years ago
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I definitely see at least one immediate benefit here... Not having to look down at your Garmin to see how fast you're going when you're flat out at 80mkh+.... That's gotta be a good thing!  26

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CornishSprinter [26 posts] 3 years ago
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Ooh, how fast am I going? *SMASH*

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notfastenough [3715 posts] 3 years ago
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I do think this is the future. You'll end up with all kinds of overlays for them, such as a Strava app that highlights people around you recording a ride on Strava (or more accurately, highlighting the location of their phone in their jersey pocket), and a GPS route will just look like a line painted down the road when viewed through a fully-integrated lens.

Whether it's the future in the current incarnation (just a small portion of the field of vision being dedicated to this) is another matter...

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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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This is what the Department for Transport says:

“It is important that drivers give their full attention to the road when they are behind the wheel and do not behave in a way that stops them from observing what is happening on the road.
A range of offences and penalties already exist to tackle those drivers who do not pay proper attention to the road including careless driving which will become a fixed penalty offence later this year.
We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the Police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving.”

Just wondering if any ban will hit cyclists.

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sm [392 posts] 3 years ago
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This is the future. Maybe not this version but soon (well in many years) we'll all be wearing google glasses. The benefits in cycling are obvious. Forget about looking over your shoulder, imagine a camera on the back of your helmet beamed into your eye. Nice!

Are google glasses anymore dangerous than drivers staring at the massive sat nav in the middle of their windscreen? I guess it would be tough to see if the google glass was playing a DVD of course. Sufferfest I'm thinking.

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 3 years ago
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Yuck, not only do they ming but they display data constantly in the line of sight, I'd rather catch the bus than ride in these.

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dave atkinson [6258 posts] 3 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

This is what the Department for Transport says:

We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the Police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving.”

seems odd that they're happy to let everyone stare at their sat navs, which involve you taking your eyes off the road, but they'll ban HUD tech, which doesn't

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FMOAB [268 posts] 3 years ago
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Does it give you vision like the terminator or (showing my age) Steve Austin?  1

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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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@ Dave Atkinson. I'm guessing it's because it would be difficult to tell whether a driver (or a cyclist) is looking at the display data, or other road users, at any given moment, if they are using one of these devices. Whereas if someone's taking a peek at their satnav, or other device, it's easier for others to witness that momentary inattention and react accordingly.

It's certainly an interesting development.

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jollygoodvelo [1539 posts] 3 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

Just wondering if any ban will hit cyclists.

Hopefully when the ban is drafted it will make it an offence to use the system while in control of a motor vehicle.

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GrimpeurChris [60 posts] 3 years ago
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The future is a full "Head Up Display" built into a layer within the lenses, with user selected data and will not be distinguishable from "normal shades". This is NOT the future, I hope;-)

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 3 years ago
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This is the direction wearable electronics are moving and it is a great first attempt but it will require a lot of refining but there will be mass market adoption. People just aren't going to wear something that big

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big mick [184 posts] 3 years ago
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Dave Atkinson wrote:
Neil753 wrote:

This is what the Department for Transport says:

We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the Police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving.”

seems odd that they're happy to let everyone stare at their sat navs, which involve you taking your eyes off the road, but they'll ban HUD tech, which doesn't

Good point Neil but when did the DVLA ever THINK things through.

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RhysW [81 posts] 3 years ago
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It's an interesting point, somebody has already commented that they think wearing them while riding will cause a smash - but I guess glancing down at a Garmin is less of a distraction somehow?

So ahead with everything in your field of vision or having to look away?

Head Up Display are widely else where - so a pilot or such has less distraction - surly cyclists could benefit!

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BikeJon [161 posts] 3 years ago
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Perhaps your smartphone could be mounted in such a way as to video the view behind? Then simply stream this live to the internet and browse to it from your glasses. No need to look over your shoulder anymore. Simples. Hehe

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auldain [8 posts] 1 year ago
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To make perfect, move all the battery/Ant+/bluetooth gubbins to the frame at back of the legs (hide it from the hideous location under lens) and at same time probably make glasses better balanced on the face. This would leave just the projection and screen unit visable from head on, and make them more asthetic.

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auldain [8 posts] 1 year ago
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Oh and also essential the unit has a built in rear view camera linked to an auto capture loop.