Samsung and Yamaha have unveiled a smart windshield concept hailed as 'a new concept in road safety’ that will be a ‘revolution for young motorbike riders.' The video below highlights the main features including GPS navigation, SMS, email and call info projected onto a head-up display within the windshield.
As a fan of new tech and anything that improves road safety, I thought I would love this, but, reluctantly, I have some doubts.
The first question I have about this concept is, ‘does it fill a need?’. While I have seen plenty of drivers on the roads using their phones, it’s not an issue I associate with motorcyclists and scooter riders. I don’t recall seeing or hearing of people using their mobile phones while riding. I’m sure it happens sometimes, but I’m not aware of it being a significant problem. It's worth noting that the concept was unveiled in Italy, the home of the scooter, so perhaps the issue is rifer there. A press release from Yamaha cites stats that 24% of those aged 18-24 have used a mobile while driving, but it is not clear if that relates specifically to drivers of two-wheeled vehicles.
While the concept is designed to reduce driver distraction for riders, I’m concerned that it could increase distraction and could increase the odds of a motorcycle injury. Some features such as projecting turn by turn navigation seem sensible, but the ability to receive and interact with email notifications seems risky. Emails and many other notifications can wait, so why show them at all? Notifications on the windshield while driving than directly on a phone but eliminating the distraction altogether seems preferable.
One of the features I liked is the ability to auto-reply to SMS messages to say you're are driving. It seems like a good idea and one that would be handy for all motorists. However, this feature can be achieved already through the use of a mobile app alone via a range of apps such as Agent App on Android.
It also seems like some of the more advanced features such as hands-free calling and even navigation could be achieved more safely and cheaply using an in-helmet Bluetooth headset. By keeping calls and navigation ‘audio only’, the rider's eyes can stay on the road.
I currently have some reservations about the concept, but it is still early days and far from being production ready. If this gets developed for production, I’m sure Samsung would develop the features with a strong focus on safety and, as a result, some of the final elements may differ from the ones displayed here.
I think there is the opportunity for something great here, but it needs more work. With other motorcycle innovations in development such as smart helmets from firms such as Skully, it seems inevitable that motorcyclists will become more connected. I only hope that these innovations enhance safety rather than reduce it.