Recon engineers helped make that happen by combining the Sitara processor with TI's TPS65950 power management IC. Working side-by-side TI engineers, they were able to modify the drivers and circuitry of the Sitara chip to reach a power consumption goal of as little as 0.1 mW in standby. "The standby number is good, but if you're skiing, you might also want to know how fast you're going, or you might want to check your messages," Russell Crane, TI's Sitara product marketing manager, said in an interview. "With this device, you'll only consume 700 mW, even in maximum power mode."
MOD can display speed, video, and maps that can be seen beneath the user's right eye. (Source: Recon Instruments)
Power for the MOD display comes from a tiny lithium polymer battery, rated at 3.7V and 1,200 mAh, which resides inside the ski goggles.
Six companies are now integrating the MOD display into "Recon-ready" goggles, Zheng said. Those include: Uvex Sports, Alpina, Briko, Zeal Optics, Scott Sports, and Smith Optics.
Although other types of head-mounted displays have been available in the past, Recon says its display is the first system of its kind to be to be offered to the consumer market. "Recon has been able to bring micro-displays into everyday life with this product," said TI's Crane. "You can add this to a pair of glasses for running or cycling, or even to a scuba diving mask."
I see a holiday present in the making for my gadget-loving, 24/7 connected husband who constantly has smart phone in hand on the slopes. While I imagine a host of other takers like him, I have to wonder at the safety issues related to having all that "digital noise" clouding your vision when careening down the slopes. Not much different than people's reaction to folks checking email, GPS, and texting while driving. On second thought, perhaps not such a good gift....
Hey Beth, the HUD actually sits in your periferal, so it doesn't distract you while you're skiing or reduce your field of vision. You don't actually see it until you glance down and look at it. The UI is designed to be easy to read in split-second glances to get important info like speed, altitude, time, etc. When you're stopped or on the chairlift you can glance down and easily read more detailed info like your text messages, or pull up navigation or your music player. Also, if you get lost in the trees (which I sometimes do), you can open up navigation while stopped and easily find your way back to the trails. This saved my butt in Whistler more than a couple times this season. Hope that helps :)
Sounds like a gadget lover's dream. I think as long as someone is comfortable receiving info in that manner and can train themselves to absorb data from within their peripheral vision, it would work great. The GPS addition is definitely a plus, especially when you're covering big mountain terrain, back country, or glade skiing.
We got a sports radar detector some years ago to check speed skiing. I like to ride between 30 and 50 mph which is the limit of the slope in many cases. The last 2 years we have used two different Contour Video cameras. The Contour with the mapping of both speed and elevation is cool. The down side is when you wreck both the Go Pro and the Contour will be damaged and I do wreck.
I would like to test it downhill mountain biking as well as skiing. So where can I get one?
For competitive skiers this would be useful, perhaps. For a race car driver, where a machine is being controlled, the information might be useful. For a skier, I am not sure of what additional help it would be. And when you are on the slopes, do you really want to answering your phone?
On the other hand, this is a great example of what can be done with some modern microcontrollers to lower power comsumption and operate in extreme environments.
Since the emergence of Go-Pro and YouTube, the average sports enthusiast has been strapping on cameras and showing anyone interested where they've been and what they've done. It all follows the larger trend of Tribalism-sharing and connecting with like-minded people without geographic limits.
The data recorded can help back up any claims of extreme altitude, speed, etc.
I'm sure that safety is a big concern and will be addressed. Sorry I missed this at CES. I'd like to see the actual display through the goggles.
Hey Tekochip, users interact with MOD Live using the 6 buttons on the wireless Bluetooth low energy remote. The remote is worn like a watch over the skier's jacket, or it can be attached to the goggle strap as well. Here's a picture of the remote on my wrist: http://i.imgur.com/Ykr4v.jpg
I see real potential for our military. Maybe that capability already exists, or at least I would like to think so. The GPS and map features might be a great help and free a soldier's hands for other tasks. As far as downhill skiing while reading text messages, it seems to me the same unsafe situation would be there when compared to driving and texting. Great article Charles.
@bobjengr: I agree with the safety concerns, despite the fact I know there would be a huge audience for this. I know the display is in your peripheral vision, but blazing down the slopes, especially at 30 mph or more is a challenge in itself on hard terrain--the last thing you need is any distraction, even if it is relevant like GPS mapping, and the noise of text/emails. Now taking advantage of all that info on the chair lift--that's a totally different story.
I had a similar thought about the safety aspect. However, there is significant talk and development about making this type of technology standard in cars. Maybe if there is a big implementation with ski goggles it can be proven one way or another before every distracted driver has it installed.
@bobjengr: In a combat situation the last thing I would want is for the guy covering my flank to be looking at a map inside a pair of goggles. Much of the life saving information can come from things observed by peripheral vision and in this case what the soldier would see is how fast he was going. Not particularly useful data.
I agree with the concern about durability and damage when falling. I often ski "quite hard", and if I push too far, sometimes I do fall, also quite hard. So an expensive display that is destroyed as I "gently tumble" 50 yards down the hill is a very expensive toy to break.
The other thing is that skiers really do not need the distraction, no matter how cool it is. CEll-phone skiing is as bad as drunk skiing, and a whole lot less welcome.
Probably the display could be great for some sport like bowling, or golf, where computer assistance in calculating aims could be very valuable, and running into other folks is quite easy to avoid.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
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