The company that introduced heads-up-display goggles for skiers and snowboarders is coming after our two-wheeled world. Vancouver-based Recon announced this week that it’s begun taking pre-orders for its Jet Pilot model sunglasses and hopes to start shipping out the fighter-pilot-style shades in December.
For cyclists interested in being early adopters of HUD technology you have until the end of the Tour de France on July 21 to secure a pair of these George Hincapie-endorsed sunglasses for $500. That price jumps to $600 after the Tour.
The Jet utilizes wireless connectivity to third party devices via ANT+ and Bluetooth, and display the associated information on a small screen that’s positioned in the lower corner of the right eye’s field of vision. That means not having to look down at your handlebars to view current speed, heart rate, cadence or watts.
The Recon glasses also have a built-in camera, and they can interface with a user’s mobile phone, allowing users to see the identify of incoming callers or the content of text messages. The display is controlled by a optical touch-pad that supports multiple gestures, works in all weather conditions and can be manipulated with gloves on.
The Recon Jet will include a 1 GHz dual core processor, dedicated graphics, Wi-Fi, ANT+, Bluetooth, GPS, HD camera, and a suite of sensors making it comparable in capability to a tablet or smartphone (minus the phone, of course). Reconn says all these extra features puts total weight at around 60 grams, which is more than double our current go-to on-bike shades, the 26-gram Smith PivLock V2 Max. But if account for now-unnecessary weight of our Garmin 800 head unit (110 grams) and handlebar mounting bracket (8 grams), the Jets offer a net loss of 84 grams.
While the Recon Jet is designed with athletic uses in mind, it has an open platform, meaning IT developers can create applications for other activities. Recon says it’s also already in development with “major health and fitness companies to create native apps that will be available to upload and run on the device.”
Recon says the Jets will also allow for data export, so you’ll still be able to upload ride details to Strava, Training Peaks, and the like.
Available colors include matte black and white. Claimed battery life is between four and six hours depending on the numbers of connected apps. That lower number obviously wont be enough for some cyclists who go on longer rides and want to collect all their data.
As for how well these futuristic shades will actually work, let’s hope the initial iteration of the snowsports goggles are not a harbinger of things to come. Popular tech website cnet.com put a pair of Recon-display equipped goggles through its paces earlier this year and was less than impressed, writing that the “goggles routinely faltered, not charging in some instances, not connecting to a separate controller unit at other times, and offering up a baffling collection of error messages that could only be deciphered by a coding geek.” That’s a tough sell considering the goggles start at $450.
But Recon is hoping to combat any previous bad press in part by securing the services of celebrity endorser – and 17-time Tour de France finisher – George Hincapie, who retired from pro cycling this year (and also admitting to using performance enhancing drugs).
“Throughout my 19-year career, I was always fascinated by wearable technology and I think it is incredible how Recon Instruments has managed to develop a HUD for sunglasses while keeping the fit of the sunglasses balanced and comfortable,” said Hincapie in news release. “It is amazing how the display is only visible when you want it to be and is completely invisible when you don’t. It will make a tremendous difference for cyclists not to have to look down at their bike computer or smartphone for data, taking their focus away from their activity. I can see these being a big hit in the peloton.”
Here’s Big George himself extolling the virtues of the new shades. You can learn more about the Recon Jet on the company website.