The future is a confusing place. Cars are still on the ground, I have to pour my own coffee in the morning, and a complete meal still isn’t able to fit inside a tiny pill. However, one bit of futuristic cycling technology is finally here. No, we’re not talking about the latest axle standard for the next generation of tires, but a cycling HUD.
Technicaly, you could view Google Glass or Recon’s own goggles as the first Heads Up Displays available to the cyclist, but the Recon Jet has been designed from the ground up for your athletic pursuits, no goggles required.
Packing an incredible amount of functions into a sleek but somehow awkward looking package, Recon is finally shipping their long awaited Jet smart glasses. The company is still in the process of fulfilling their preorders, but Jets will soon be available for sale if you can see past the price…
Just what is a heads up display and why would you want it for cycling? Basically, it puts all of the information you could possibly want to see while riding in a position where you can see it without really taking your eyes off the road. I honestly expected it to be much more obtrusive to your vision than it actually is, but your brain seems to compensate for the blocked portion of view. You definitely know it’s there, but at the same time you can still see what’s behind the screen thanks to your left eye compensating.
The device pairs with your smartphone to operate various apps, but you can also use the glasses as a standalone unit since it has built in GPS and Wifi. When it is connected to your phone you can receive text and phone call notifications among other things, and in both modes you can see maps, cycling metrics, and much more. Thanks to the open platform anyone can develop apps that are compatible and features like a built in mic and stereo speakers allow for the development of sound based features in the future. To utilize all of the features you will need a Recon Engage account which is a free app that is both Mac and Windows compatible and works with Android or iOS.
The glasses themselves break down to allow for different lenses and the glasses can even be used without the electronics if you wanted to. The battery is mounted to the left side of the temple with the optical display on the right for balance. A typical charge will last up to 4 hours of use so longer activities will need a second battery which is hot-swappable so you won’t lose your data. A glance-detection feature turns on the screen when you look at it which helps to save battery life, and a full charge takes about 2.5 hours via micro USB.
On the side of the device is an optical button which functions similar to the controls of Google Glass with finger swipes left and right or up and down moving through the menus. The optical button works in all weather and with all gloves. Additionally there is a rocker button below and a separate power button. Even with all of the electronics dangling from the frame, the glasses only weigh 85g all in.
The Display includes a 15 degree adjustment so you can position it to your preference. Currently made in San Jose by Flextronics, the glasses are available in white or black and along with replaceable lenses, RX lenses are a possiblity. Recon is currently fulfilling the back orders for the glasses, but when production units are available they will sell for $699.
Admittedly, we were pretty skeptical of the Jet, but in a quick test at Sea Otter it showed promise. They are considerably less awkward than expected, and do offer some useful features like being able to follow a map for your route, or take photos of that car that just forced you into a ditch. We’ll have to get out on a ride to really test them out, but for now they remain a curious bit of tech that may point towards the future of cycling data instruments.