BMW K 1600 GTL Concept and Head-up Display Helmet at CES

BMW Motorcycles is taking its two new safety concepts to CES this year. The first is laser light, adapted for motorcycles and a helmet with a head-up display. The former found its way into the BMW K 1600 GTL concept motorcycle and is a derivation of the design from the automotive division. While laser light can be found on the company’s 7 Series and i8, it is the first time laser technology has been applied to the company’s two-wheelers. Laser headlamps tout precise, bright, and pure-white light, and have a pretty amazing high-beam throw of up to 600 meters, which is double that of conventional headlights. In addition, laser technology has a compact, robust, and maintenance-free construction that affords a long service life.

BMW K 1600 GTL Concept with Laser Light

The BMW K 1600 GTL is the testbed to determine the feasibility of this technology when implemented on the bike. However, it will be a while before we start seeing laser on bikes, as BMW admits that “the technology is still cost-intensive for use in motorcycles.” The company is banking on the eventual economies of scale to bring the laser to its range of motorcycles. We have little doubt if it realizes, it will be either a pricey option or only on range-topping models.

As for the head-up display helmet, BMW is certainly not the first. There are already independent developers exploring the technology, some even realizing it (such as AR-1 from Skully), but the difference is that BMW is leveraging on its experience on HUD found on its automobiles and it makes both the head-up display and the motorcycles, so in theory, hardware integration should be pretty slick.

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BMW Head-up Display Helmet

There’s one key difference between BMW Motorrad’s version and what the market has to offer: instead of a tiny transparent display that requires you to glance down at the display, BMW’s iteration has a large piece of glass hanging just in front of the wearer’s right eye – directly in the wearer’s line-of-sight. The HUD is expected to display data found on the instrument cluster, including travel speed, gear selected, tire pressure, and oil and fuel level. Additionally, it can also display the current road’s speed limit, recognition of road signs, navigation information, and even warnings of impending dangers.

BMW Head-up Display Helmet

Other possibilities include integration with an action camera mounted inside the helmet to record the entire journey or a second, rear-facing camera that could project live images onto the HUD to serve as a digital rear-view mirror. There’s also talk that it will allow for visualization of other riders in a motorcycle group, so you can see where your fellow riders are when riding as a group. The helmet is outfitted with a mini-computer, along with speakers, and is controlled using the BMW Motorrad multi-controller fitted on the left-hand handlebar.

Lastly, BMW’s Head-up Display is designed to be integrated into existing helmets, promising not to interfere with the wearer’s comfort or rider safety, and it is powered by two replaceable batteries, good for five hours of runtime (yay! no recharging!). Like the laser light for motorcycles, it will be a while before we will see this on the shelves as the German car and bike maker said it plans to take it to series-production “within the next few years.”

BMW Head-up Display Helmet

BMW K 1600 GTL Concept with Laser Light

BMW K 1600 GTL Concept with Laser Light