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HUD-enabled ski goggles run Android

Nov 19, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Recon Instruments announced an Android-based $399 heads-up display (HUD) designed to fit inside ski goggles. The Snow2 is equipped with a 1GHz, dual-core processor, a 428 x 240 mini-display, plus WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and sensors, and it syncs to Android and iOS devices.

The Snow2 updates a previous MOD Live HUD wearable that was similarly targeted at skiers and snowboarders. The new device upgrades the processor, display, and battery life, among other enhancements.



Recon Snow2 with goggles, outside and in
(click images to enlarge)

 

Vancouver-based Recon Instruments, which in September received a “significant” investment from Intel Capital, is also prepping a somewhat similar “Jet” model built into a pair of sunglasses designed for biking and general sportswear usage (see farther below). Earlier this month, Recon announced that the launch of the Jet was being delayed for several months to correct some design flaws, but the Snow2 appears to be available now.

Recon has sold over 50,000 of the MOD Live HUDs, says the company. Last year, Oakley released an iOS-oriented set of goggles equipped with the MOD Live called the Airwave.



Snow2 without goggles
(click image to enlarge)

 

The Snow2 adopts the same 428 x 240 mini-display as the Jet, according to a SlashGear report that alerted us to the product. It also appears to have the same system-on-chip, an unnamed 1GHz, dual-core, Cortex-A9 SoC that replaces the earlier 800MHz, Cortex-A8 OMAP3 processor.

The Snow2 fits inside popular ski goggle models, and can also be purchased pre-installed in a pair of UVEX Black G.GL 9 goggles. The wide-screen (16:9) WQVGA HUD display, which is located in the upper right of the field of view — Google Glass style — offers the equivalent of a 14-inch image sitting five feet away, says Recon. Thanks to the device’s “smart optics,” users don’t need to refocus when viewing the HUD, says the company.



Snow2 interface screens
(click image to enlarge)

 

Even more so than Google Glass, the Snow2 can act as a standalone wearable computer, albeit with a customized Android interface, and features built-in WiFi. Also like Glass, it can act as a Bluetooth accessory to an Android or iOS device. Instead of using voice commands or tapping the side of the device — both of which would pose problems when racing downhill at 30 miles per hour — you navigate via a waterproof Bluetooth Low Energy remote strapped to your arm, which features large, glove-friendly buttons.



Snow2 wrist remote

 

Paired iPhones and Android phones, meanwhile, can forward incoming SMS, call display, and web connectivity, says the company. The device offers Made for iPhone certification, as well as support for the Apple MFi Bluetooth spec.

Built-in sensors on the Snow2 device feed the display with information on speed, vertical descent, distance, and airtime. The device is also said to connect with “popular heart rate monitors and cameras,” presumably via its micro-USB port.

Five top-level displays offer access to GPS navigation information, buddy tracking, music player control, and a variety of other customized apps. The Snow2 ships with Recon Engage software, which runs both on smartphones and desktop platforms. Among other features, Recon Engage offers additional stat tracking, as well as course reviews overlaid on Google Maps.

Specifications listed for the Snow2 include:

  • Processor — 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 with PowerVR SGX540 GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR2 SDRAM; 2GB flash
  • Display:
    • 428 × 240 pixels
    • wide screen 16:9
    • High Color 16-bit (5:6:5)
    • High contrast, brightness
    • optional UVEX Black G.GL 9 goggles with Red Fire Lens
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11a/b/g/n
    • Bluetooth 4.0
    • Apple MFi Bluetooth compliant
    • ANT+
  • Sensors:
    • GPS (MEMS GPS/INS Kalman filtering fusion algorithm)
    • Accelerometer
    • Gyroscope
    • Magnetometer
    • Altimeter/barometer
    • Thermometer
  • I/O — Micro-USB (data transfer and power)
  • Weight — ~65 g (~2.3 oz)
  • Battery — 1200mAh for 6+ hours
  • Dimensions — 2.5 × 12.5 × 12.5cm
  • Operating system — customized Android

The Snow2 uses a version of the same Android-based SDK available for the MOD Live HUD and the Jet. The SDK lets developers modify apps for the HUDs or build them from scratch. It supplies APIs for all sensors and peripherals.
 

Recon Jet

Recon has posted a number of specs for its Jet sports-glasses HUD, but it’s possible some of these will change in the current redesign. The $599 device has been delayed by several months, but is open for pre-orders.



Recon Jet
(click image to enlarge)

 

As with the Snow2, a dual-core CPU running customized Android is paired with Bluetooth, WiFi, ANT+, and GPS. The 60-gram polarized sunglasses are equipped with a similar WQVGA display. The Jet offers the same 1GB of RAM, but you get a more generous 8GB of flash.

Other sensors and features are also similar. However, instead of using an additional strap-on remote, you press an optical touchpad on the side of the glasses. There’s also an integrated HD camera, as well as speakers and a microphone.

Other Android-based HUD wearables on the horizon in addition to the still beta-stage Google Glass include the Skully Helmets beta-stage Skully P1 motorcycle helmet.
 

Further information

The Snow2 is available now for $399, or when pre-installed in UVEX Black G.GL 9 goggles, at a special discount price of $449 (normally $549). More information may be found at Recon’s Snow2 product page. The Jet is available now for pre-order for $599, but won’t ship for several months. More on the Jet may be found at Recon’s Jet product page.
 

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