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Car and Driver: Light Cycle: BMW’s ConnectedRide HUD and Laser Headlight

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BMW ConnectedRide Helmet

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Last year, BMW’s Mini unit invited us to San Francisco to play with some augmented-reality goggles that to us, didn’t seem to offer any real benefit over a good head-up display unit. Now, at CES, BMW Motorrad is showing a helmet in the same vein—something that might actually be legitimately useful to the motorcycling populace.

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BMW ConnectedRide Helmet

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Riding a motorcycle is a constant exercise in time and resource management. Try riding over Oregon’s Siskiyou Summit in 30-degree weather and you’ll find yourself marveling at the questions you’re asking. “Can I be seen? Do I know where I’m going. Have I got enough tire in these temperatures? Could that wet spot be black ice? How can I thread the needle between said patch of possible-black-ice and the semi ahead without unduly endangering myself or slowing to the point that I get mowed down by some inattentive local in a lifted Cherokee?” At the same speeds in an automobile, you’d be smart to be watching for wet patches, but otherwise, you’ll cruise along in serene comfort, not expending appreciably more energy than you would during your garden-variety commute.

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BMW’s ConnectedRide head-up display helmet aims to streamline the flow of information, allowing the rider to keep his or her eyes on the next corner and the vagaries of traffic, rather than spending precious seconds glancing down at gauges and mirrors. Available information includes speed, tire pressure, oil/fuel level, and selected gear. Like BMW’s automotive HUD units, the helmet’s display can also display speed-limit and road-hazard warnings.

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BMW ConnectedRide Helmet

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The Bavarians go on to posit that via future V2V communication systems, with real-time information about accidents and stalled vehicles ahead, could reach the rider from beyond visual range. Navigation information also could be displayed in front of the rider’s eye, as could a rear-view camera, obviating the need to glance at side mirrors. BMW also envisions the ability to identify and locate the riders in one’s group, just in case somebody takes a wrong turn and winds up on the side of a mountain in rural Mendocino County.

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The helmet itself is controlled with the clutch hand using BMW Motorrad’s multi-controller. Battery life, however, could be better. Currently, the company is claiming five hours of use from a set. That’s fine for an afternoon run with some pals, but touring riders will want multiple batteries. BMW aims to have the system in series production “within the next few years.”

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BMW K1600GTL Laser Headlight

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Unless your car’s headlights are fundamentally awful, you probably don’t think about them too much. By and large, most of today’s automotive lighting systems are pretty good. On the other hand, most motorcycle headlamps could be better. And given that a bike’s headlight is a primary point of visibility for other motorists, and that the consequences of a collision with wildlife are more dire for motorcyclists than they are for automobile occupants, riders spend a lot of time futzing around with their headlamps.

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BMW may have come up with the ultimate futz: lasers. Lasers as automobile headlights aren’t quite old hat, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about BMW and Audi’s high-end offerings. And you also know that such systems are sadly illegal in the United States due to some regressive-thinking jackhattery in Washington.

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BMW K1600GTL Laser Headlight

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For CES, BMW fitted a laser headlight system to their K1600GTL touring bike, a six-cylinder, 793-pound behemoth with an inline six that serves as Motorrad’s rejoinder to Honda’s flat-six Gold Wing. BMW touts the benefits of exceptionally pure white light, as well as a high-beam range of up to 1969 feet, which is more than one-third of a mile.

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While connected helmets undoubtedly offer benefits, some might argue they detract from the isolated purity of the motorcycling experience. On the other hand, we can’t think of a rider we know who wouldn’t happily swap his old H4 bulbs for the claimed visibility afforded by BMW’s laser.

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_BMW-ConnectedRide-REEL

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2016 Consumer Electronics Show

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