NUVIZ Review

Feb 05, 2018 View Comments by

Nuviz reviewLet’s get this out of the way—if you are an “I ride my motorcycle to get away from it all!” rider, then the NUVIZ is simply not for you. You can skip this review and spend some time with your cat. But if you owned a PalmPilot, waited in line for the first iPhone, or watched an unboxing video, then you might be interested in this glimpse of the future.

The NUVIZ is a motorcycle helmet heads-up display powered by what is basically a smartphone. The unit clips to your helmet’s chin bar via an adhesive-backed mounting plate and projects an image onto a prism positioned just outside your helmet visor. Because the projected image is close to your eyes, it appears quite large, similar in size to the info screen on your dashboard or nav unit but within your line of sight.

Bluetooth is used to connect the 8.5-oz unit to your phone, audio headset, and a small disk-shaped controller that you mount on the left handlebar (multiple mounting options are provided). Once configured, you can control music, navigate, send/receive calls, take photo/video, and see your speed, speed limit, and time without tilting your head to look down at your dashboard/GPS or moving your left hand too far from the handlebar. It takes some getting used to but it’s quite useful.

The controller toggles through each of the modes, the screen changing each time. Music mode is easy, displaying the current song and providing simple play/pause, skip, and volume controls. In speedometer mode, your current speed is displayed in large numbers. It’s right within your peripheral vision and the unit can also beep when you go over the limit (or a user-defined number of mph over). In other words, don’t blame NUVIZ if you get a speeding ticket. Sending and receiving calls with the unit is very straightforward as well.

You can activate the camera at any time to take up to 8 megapixel stills or 30fps HD video. Images are sharp with crisp colors, and like other POV cameras this one is challenged by scenes with strong light and shadows. But compared to other helmet-mounted video solutions your footage won’t be tilting up and down to see the bike’s dashboard because the NUVIZ puts important info in your peripheral vision.

It’s the navigation mode that holds the most promise for the NUVIZ over current navigation systems, but it also presents the most peril. To the point: Navigation is the weakest link of the whole NUVIZ experience. The map is formatted much like you’d see on your phone or GPS unit, so it is familiar; but the NUVIZ screen (an LCOS Liquid Crystal on Silicon display with 800 x 480 pixels, or a touch less than SVGA) has low contrast, with deep blacks looking more like greys and whites looking off-white. Colors are muted as well and all of this makes the blue navigation line you are supposed to be following very difficult to see. Similarly, street names and other small-type designations, like distance to next turn, are all but illegible to these old eyes.

At the end of the day, the NUVIZ isn’t perfect; new technology rarely is. The original PalmPilot was slow with a cheap plastic stylus and a dim monochrome screen. The original iPhone didn’t have apps. Both evolved. At some point in the future we’ll be living Akira-styled lives with data overlaid right on our visors and we’ll touch and swipe or speak to control it all. And future versions of ourselves will point back to the NUVIZ as a pioneer. If you want to touch the future now, your PalmPilot has arrived.


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About the author

You know that little boy who stares at you, mouth agape, as you ride by? That was me, thirty-plus years ago. I merged two of my passions, motorcycles and photography, when I became a contributor to RoadRUNNER.