The helmet is the most critical motorbike safety gear, and this explains why it is frequently targeted when developing safety add-on devices. Offering high-visibility, a helmet can be fitted with intelligent brake lights, HUD (head-up display) kits or a rear view camera – as now being proposed by Zona.
Rear view mirrors are a standard feature on vehicles made for use in public roads ever since motorized transport began. This is in spite of the fact that today’s technology can easily substitute them with widely available affordable parts.
Usually, prototype motorbikes or cars incorporate displays from rear-view cameras in the instrument panels. But production models only use them for the increasingly trendy parking assist function.
Fitting a camera kit is affordable and easy for motorbikes, but it needs a display at the front– and smartphones are often used for this. The major advantage of a rear-facing camera is that it eliminates blind sports, offering a broad and uninterrupted view of the back.The downside is that it becomes an additional distraction for riders, diverting their eyes from the road for a precious few seconds, which can be critical in avoiding accidents.
Jam Technology Limited, a company based in northern England, presently offers a display kit that feeds images directly to the rider’s eye. The Zona includes a digital camera that is permanently attached to the license plate and attached to the motorbike’s battery. It also comes with a wireless receiver that is fixed to the helmet’s back and a display arm that is fitted on the inside of the rider’s helmet.
The camera has an integrated three-axis accelerometer and a gyroscope to control its operation. When the motorbike stays idle for three minutes, it gets into sleep mode and wakes up once motion is detected again. The device also comes with a memory stick for recording the captured footage. When memory stick is full, the system overwrites the previous data.
The live feed is beamed wirelessly to a tiny display bracket that may be fitted to any helmet on the side preferred by the rider. This is done by simply wedging it between the inner shell and the cheek pad. Zona recommends that the right position for the display tip is a little below eye level. This ensures that it does not interfere with the rider’s direct line of sight while at the same time it stays within the peripheral view of the rider. The viewing effect is said to be like watching a 30-inch display from 9.8 feet (3 meters) away.
The resolution of the camera is restricted to VGA(640 x 480).This is because of the quality of the display medium, where having a more refined input could compromise performance and offer little or no real benefits. Zona says that a huge amount of effort was put into creating the software. As such, it can cope with low-light photos and anti-glare functionality-ensuring a clear image, whatever the conditions. In addition, data from the accelerometer sensors is employed in order to guarantee smooth images, even where there are vibrations due to the engine or road irregularities.
The wireless receiver comprises a tiny box that weighs only 2.5 ounces (71 grams) and uses an encrypted protocol to connect with the camera. It can be attached to the helmet using two adhesive mounts, and this makes it easy to transfer it to other helmets. The receiver comes with a rechargeable battery that supports a maximum of ten hours of use. It may be charged through a mini-USB port either straight from a powerline or a USB outlet. The battery can even be charged while on the move by plugging into the appropriate connector on the main harness that provides power to the camera.
The rear-view kit by Zona basically pairs a display system with a digital action camera that is believed to be non-intrusive and beneficial in the long run. Zona advises that getting used to the device takes only a few minutes. From then onwards, the visual information from the rear is immediately accessible with little effect on what is most vital – attention to the front view.
The Zona system will retail for $308(about £239) once it hits the shelves. However, those who pre-order now are guaranteed delivery in early July at the discounted price of $250(£195).The system is compatible with the majority of helmet and motorbike makes. It is reported to work well even for glass-wearing riders and the installation process appears to be quite simple, as the following video shows.