Imagine a souped-up Google Glass built into a motorcycle or bicycle helmet that superimposes information and directions in front of your eyes as you speed down a highway or move through a congested downtown area.
LiveMap, a startup based in Moscow, is developing a motorcycle helmet with a head-mounted display, built-in navigation, and Siri-like voice recognition. The helmet will have a translucent, color display that's projected on the visor in the center of the field of vision, and a custom user interface, English language-only at launch, based on Android.
Unlike visor-mounted heads-up displays, which have been available for a decade, LiveMaps is fully integrated within the headgear and layers information in real space. The "augmented reality" helmet display includes a light sensor for adjusting image brightness according to external light conditions, as well as an accelerometer, gyroscope, and digital compass for tracking head movements. The digital helmet is also clever about minimizing distracted driving -- a map is shown only when the rider's speed is close to zero.
The company has so far built some prototype hardware and software for the helmet with the help of grants from the Russian government, and it's now reaching out via Indiegogo to raise $150,000 to make press molds for the helmet capsule.
The company is also seeking venture capital funding but isn't finding it in its home country. "Russian venture funds are not disposed to invest into hardware startups. They prefer to back up clones of successful services like Groupon, Airnb, Zappos, Yelp, Booking, etc. They are not interested in producing hardware either," the CEO, Andrew Artishchev, wrote on LiveMap's Indiegogo page.
The company hopes to launch LiveMap in the third quarter of 2014 in the U.S. and Canada, and in Australia and the U.K. before the end of 2014. But the augmented reality helmet will be a pricey ride. LiveMap will sell for $2,000, or $1,500 for those who are "early birds," the company said.