Riding your motorcycle safely requires all of our senses and takes incredible amounts of focus. Take a peek down at your phone or even the speedometer at the wrong time, and you can quickly become a prisoner of physics. But for those of us enamored with life on two wheels, the rewards outweigh the risks and we’re forever finding new ways to hedge bets and better our odds. Bikes now come equipped with a plethora of electronics designed specifically to bail us out when abilities don’t match desires, and even our gear is evolving. The latest innovation is the Nuviz Head-Up Display Unit.
Designed to attach to the chin bar area of most helmets, the Nuviz is an all-in-one head-up-display device that not only aims to increase rider safety but to enhance the experience in the saddle. The Bluetooth-enabled headset links to both your phone and a handlebar mounted remote and integrates a tiny video projector in front of your face that delivers essential information at a glance while out on the road. It’s currently the only product of its kind, and after a few thousand kilometers of riding with it, its advantages — and disadvantages — are clear.
The Good: Set-up of the unit takes virtually no time at all and, with a few additional mount kits purchased from Nuviz, you can run with HUD on any of your full-face helmets.
Watch Out For: There’s no chance you won’t notice its added heft on your helmet. There’s a reason helmet designers sweat every gram during the construction of a lid, so adding over a half a pound to the leading edge of your jawline will wear on you after a while.
Who It’s For: I’d wager every rider could benefit from having a proper Heads-Up Display unit. That said, I doubt “every” rider would feel as convinced about Nuviz as those of you who are more tech oriented. Also, new riders and younger riders just getting their start could benefit the most from this type of technology to help keep eyes where they’re needed when developing essential skills.
Alternatives: There aren’t really any other HUD units available in the market currently, so Nuviz owns this turf… for now. The on-again, off-again, Skully HUD Helmet is rumoured to be making another attempt at a comeback and there is Reyedr, BikeHUD and CrossHelmet. All are all in varying stages of development.
Verdict: There is a lot to like about what Nuviz brings to market with their Head-Up Display device. And considering that Nuviz has cornered that market, theirs will be the system all others are compared to, and by and large, it delivers.
Review: The practicality of a HUD in the saddle is undeniable, and once I got used to the novelty of floating pixels in front of my face, it became incredibly useful. There were a few settings I needed to play with to get things exactly where I wanted them, but the software is intuitive and easy to personalize. There’s only one audio jack that needs connecting, and everything else is tackled with super-sticky mounts and some velcro. You’ll need to spend time downloading the maps you want to use, but so long as you only snag the areas you really need, you’ll be riding in no time.
Being able to scroll through contacts, swap displays from a real-time speedometer to playlists and figure out just where the hell you are without having to shift focus from the road ahead is truly freeing. Paired with the wireless, bar-mounted remote, all of the functionality that has been baked into the Nuviz unit is instantly accessible. The dual-stepped buttons are immediately familiar, and the system truly performs as advertised. The display from the projector is clear an surprisingly unobtrusive. After the first few miles of riding, you’ll stop looking for it and just simply see it, which is exactly how it should perform.
Communication was clear during the few calls I answered and changing playlists to suit my rides was easier than attempting it directly through my smartphone. For navigation, however, despite being an excellent system, I stopped using the Nuviz as a GPS device when riding around in unknown areas. When all but lost, I prefer my tried and true method: my phone mounted to my bars via a Ram Mount to follow Google Maps. The bigger screen and simple graphics were easier to discern at a glance.
Also, contrary to most other reviews, I found the audio quality from the included speakers is very good. I’ve ridden with earbuds uncomfortably crammed under a helmet and upgraded to a Sena unit a few years back but I was instantly blown away by how good my music sounded in comparison. I could discern mids, lows and highs — even at better than cruising speeds — without the typical loss in perceptible tone.
I know this undermines the point of having a HUD but picking out street names through the floating display was tough and actually stole more of my attention than looking down at my phone. The good news is, provided you leave turn-by-turn directions on, the Nuviz will still broadcast them through the speakers whether it’s their mapping system or via your phone. It’s not that Nuviz’s mapping system is bad by any stretch but having this device integrate Apple CarPlay or Android Auto into its digital language would enable the use of familiar mapping systems.
Nuviz’s biggest downfall is that the software isn’t bulletproof. Setup went well but after my initial ride with the Nuviz everything just kind of went haywire. I lost access to anything but the boot-up screen and it refused to pair to either my phone or the remote for repair. To their credit, Nuviz was quick to diagnose and responded with a firmware update via email, but a hard ‘reset’ button would go a long way to helping others down the road. But for the most part, Nuviz offers critical information at a glance via intuitive software and a relatively unobtrusive, although weighty piece of hardware. But being fist out of the gate always comes with its own complications.
What Others Are Saying:
“NUVIZ is off to an impressive start with this first-generation implementation of HUD technology for motorcyclists. The visual display of information is top notch – particularly with the auto-dimming feature for varying light conditions.” – Bill Roberson, Digital Trends>
“Nuviz is breaking new ground with this tech, and as a first version, there were bound to be teething problems. The HUD and the controller work together flawlessly with your phone to deliver a fantastic new way of showing all the information you need with no need to take your eyes off the road. I was impressed with the way the screen floats in your field of vision wherever you look without obscuring anything, and the intuitive control system that’s easy to use even with thick gloves on.” — Graham Mudd, Bennetts
Key Specs: Nuviz Motorcycle Helmet HUD
Processor: 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon
RAM: 1GB LPDDR3 onboard memory
Camera: Photo 8MP with auto white balance and auto exposure support; Video MP4/H.264/AVC video with AAC audio recording
Display: Active matrix LCOS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) micro-display with a resolution of 800X480 RGB dots; Self-adapting brightness per ambient conditions Pixel density: 3,175 dpi with 16M possible display colors
Weight: Weight: 240 g / 8.5 oz. (with battery)
Price (MSRP): $699
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