August 10, 2017 | Rahoul Ghose
With the financial missteps of Skully’s digitally augmented motorcycle helmet last year, and the increasing popularity of rider cams, Bluetooth headsets and even handlebar smartphone mounts for easy access to maps and GPS info, the market is ripe for a product that finally services all a rider’s tech needs.
The NUVIZ (pronounced noo-viz) is touted as “the first all-in-one motorcycle Head-Up Display (HUD)” … with intuitive controls that reduce distraction and enhance the riding experience by providing custom information needed on the ride, all within the rider’s natural line of sight.
The name is an abbreviation for what the device was developed to be, says NUVIZ product manager Brandon Holzworth, a “New Vision for Motorcyclists.”
Designed in an area often said to attract the “smartest people in the world when it comes to electronic devices,” – Salo, Finland – the NUVIZ’s pedigree includes more than a few engineers from the Nokia camp, says Holzworth, who’s based in San Diego, CA.
UNPACKING AND INSTALLATION
At $699 – sold online through the company’s website: ridenuviz.com – the NUVIZ is an investment, but one which allows you to answer your phone and make calls, listen to and control your music, film video and shoot stills, and access directions for planned trips, all through your helmet and a hand-operated, handlebar-mounted remote.
It’s a sleek, modern-looking unit which arrives packaged with all you’ll need for installation in an impressively organized and stylish box, reminiscent of packaging for Apple devices.
Instructions for mounting the NUVIZ on your helmet and pairing your device with the supplied remote controller and your smart phone (android and iPhone) are easy to follow, bearing in mind you need to take the extra time to make sure the mounting plate is placed appropriately for you to view the HUD in focus and naturally while riding.
Hence the use of a mirror is essential while positioning the NUVIZ on the right chin space of your full-face helmet. If you don’t get it right the first time the double-sided tape can be removed and spare squares are supplied.
NUVIZ mounted on a Nexx XG100 Carbon with controller | rahoul ghose
-- NYC Motorcyclist
Once installed there is also a variety of adjustments – up and down and side to side – you can make to fine tune your focus on the HUD screen, through your visor. The HUD self-adjusts its intensity under different lighting conditions.
Of particular note is the ability to adjust the direction of the forward-facing camera while previewing what will be seen through the HUD. The lens is mounted on a ball and socket joint, allowing a wide range of positioning. This live feed HUD can also be used while filming to see what is being shot in real time.
“It’s one of the features which makes it more powerful,” Holzworth says, adding for the best shooting results he cheats the camera toward center and slightly up.
The NUVIZ is considered weather resistant not waterproof, though it does have water and dust seals to protect the internals.
The nature of the ball and socket front camera lens makes it impossible to be 100 percent waterproof, Holzworth says. That functionality is an essential part of the camera’s flexibility though.
“The pre-production units have spent a lot of time in the rain without issue,” he says. To date, the company has not had a single consumer return due to water problems.
The initial charging time for the battery, via a supplied USB cable, takes several hours but can be monitored through the NUVIZ smartphone app, available through Google Play and the App Store. The rechargeable 3,250 mAh Li-ion battery provides power for up to eight hours depending on usage (video will use up the power quicker as will multi-function use (ie: music and video).
Holzworth says one user managed to make one charge last 21 hours.
The supplied headset was also easily installed in my Nexx XG100 Carbon helmet with more than enough length to hide the wiring and position the two headphones and microphone comfortably. Make sure the headphone connector is pushed fully into the helmet mount plate you’ve attached.
The NUVIZ app is sleek as well, allowing you to connect your devices … phone, controller, Bluetooth headsets … set up a personal profile (location, bike, helmet used), monitor battery levels, download maps based on your area to the required microSD card, view your recorded videos and stills, and even set up directions for specific rides, which are presented during your trip via turn by turn directions with time and distance-to-destination information displayed.
NUVIZ app screenshots on a Samsung Galaxy 8+ | rahoul ghose
Boot up time is commensurate with times you see on smart phones … which for all intents and purposes the NUVIZ is: “it’s a cell phone riding on a helmet, with an optical motor,” Holzworth says.
As a city rider, he recommends exploring the settings section of the phone app to improve the speed of the data flow, suggesting such things as removing unpaved and toll roads from the route preferences. Downloading maps for your location will also improve GPS performance.
And if your battery is running low, there’s another trick to conserve power: a simple bump on the power button will turn off the HUD while keeping all other functions running. The button must be held for a full three seconds for it to power down completely.
THAT FIRST RIDE
My first trip on the bike sporting the NUVIZ yielded a couple of concerns, the top one being a lack of volume even when the master and individual levels were set to maximum within the HUD OS.
This is a known complaint which the company is addressing in its first major firmware update slated for Sept. 1, Holzworth says. The update will increase the volume by 14 dB on android devices and between 6 and 10 dB on iPhones.
I found in the interim that aftermarket apps – which circumvent many smart phones’ tendency to control/reduce volume when Bluetooth devices are attached – can help. But this is not a recommended long-term solution as you do not want to harm your hearing.
NUVIZ mounts within eye line of rider | rahoul ghose
-- NYC Motorcyclist
The second blip was the amount of time the device took to obtain a GPS signal. To be honest I decided after waiting several minutes to leave on my ride before a signal was grabbed. But once I was moving the location process seemed to go much quicker.
Once locked, the first thing you do notice is a nice digital speedometer in your righthand field of vision.
Another setup quirk for me was the positioning of the remote controller, which is used to turn video camera filming on and off, shoot stills, adjust volume, play music, accept calls and access maps/directions.
The supplied handlebar bracket, for positioning on the left side, is sized for a 7/8” handlebar and won’t fit my 1” Triumph clip-ons. So, I used the supplied double-sided tape to attach the controller bracket to the top plate of my brake fluid reservoir on the right-hand throttle side.
Not ideal, but in all honesty, I’m more likely to pull over to work the controls. So, it wasn’t a deal breaker for me.
Holzworth says you may soon see a 1” version for purchase in the accessories section available online. The NUVIZ is also packaged with an adjustable flower-shaped bracket for mounting on curved surfaces – the individual leaves can be bent with needle-nosed pliers to fit an exact curvature.
While riding, it is cool to be able to switch songs, start and stop a video, etc.
My first video did yield a fairly humorous result completely of my own doing. Quality notwithstanding – the video did look nice – this was my first experience with a helmet cam. My regular cam is a GoPro Hero Session 5 mounted to the bike, and my usual Bluetooth headset is a Sena 20S.
As a motorcyclist, especially in NYC, I am always careful to shoulder check when changing lanes and often check my mirrors to make sure I have a safety cushion around me … tactics beaten in to me from years of riding.
Ironically, because of this, the video footage in some sections was to put it politely, kind of spastic (side to side at high speed). And while following the directions to my destination I missed a turn … so added to the dicey visuals is a chorus of language which was very un-PG to say the least.
So, shooting with a headcam was a learning experience, but a good one with the NUVIS. My second efforts made use of the HUD's live feed to smooth things out a bit more.
And finally getting music to play was a bit niggly initially, mostly because I didn’t realize I had to have the Spotify app open.
On the music side whatever default app you are using must be open on the phone for the NUVIZ to access it … Spotify, Pandora, iOS Music, etc. But once it has been opened that first time, the NUVIZ should recognize it and connect back to where you left off (song, playlist) the next time you use it.
THE TAKEAWAY | THE FUTURE
There are definitely both merits and a downside to all-in-one devices. While it is useful and damned convenient to have all features as part of one device, each of those features are not necessarily as good as their feature-specific competitors.
NUVIZ showing ball and socket action camera | rahoul ghose
-- NYC Motorcyclist
Case in point, the current generation of action cams – including the GoPro Hero 5 – shoot 4K video (30fps) and stills at 12MP. The NUVIZ is rated at 8MP for stills with HD video up to 1080p/30fps, literally a generation behind. The sound quality for calls/music/map instructions is significantly better through my Sena 20S device which also connects to my Samsung Galaxy 8+ via Bluetooth. And obviously viewing map directions on a larger smart phone is easier on the eyes, even if it’s not directly in your line of vision.
But with all said and done, the NUVIS is a quality product that I continue to enjoy using. And the promised firmware update in September should alleviate any current sound issues, I’m told.
I look forward to seeing new features and updates for the current model and what the company has planned for the next generation of the product.
Holzworth says the NUVIZ will “continue to evolve, evolve, evolve ... with users at the heart of where the product goes.”
This could mean a more powerful action camera – which user data has determined to be one of the most used features, and live traffic integrated into the map features – which are currently based on the HERE open source mapping system.
Those that have purchased a NUVIZ already will soon be getting a monthly newsletter from the company announcing when firmware updates are available and what new features are in the pipeline.
For more information on the NUVIZ, which hit US, UK and EU markets in June, visit the company online at https://www.ridenuviz.com/. An accessories section on the website is set to go live within days offering such items as replacement combiners (the clear plastic dome on top of the unit) and extra helmet mounts.
The company is working hard on making the product available in other areas – Canada, Australia and Asia – but, to date, no official time frame has been announced.
The only reason i would spend any money on a HUD would be to have rear view and an alert for the cager sociopaths that drive 120 mph down the Jackie Robinson in the right lane followed by the other moron racing the first one. Anything until then is pointless.Christina Peterson
F*** that. All I need is my own two eyes looking where I'm going ... I do have a simple bluetooth device for answering the phone once I have pulled over to a safe place to talk ... as we know riding takes a good amount of concentration ... #eyesontheroadbitchesJonathan Rattray Clark
The HUD is in the rider's sight line ... so in actual fact it requires less effort to see info (speed, directions, etc.) than it does for you to glance down at your speedo or a smart phone mounted to your handlebars. The screen is also transparent so you can see right through the info panel.NYC Motorcyclist (reply)
Definitely interested.Jacqui Van Ham
Come down about $200 and maybe some people will buy it.K. P.MC
Just seems distracting. I ride a motorcycle to get away from half the stuff this thing does.Russ Mirandasdad
Hopefully it doesn't go the same way of the Scully helmet.Brandon Hegg
Unlike the Skully helmet -- a Kickstarter campaign which never made it to market due to financial mismanagement -- the NUVIZ is on the market right now delivering a solid product to clients, an all-in-one device which will only get better with future firmware updates.NYC Motorcyclist (reply)
Not sure what to think of that. Just ride!Patrick Teter