Lenovo ThinkReality A6 headset: an inspiration for bicycle safety?
I am independent; Lenovo is not sponsoring this; the following is simply a way for me to introduce AR to people. I am now working on a book about the impact AR is having on the world of bicycling, especially safety. I am not crowdfunding the book. An early version is now on Amazon. If you would like to support this project, it would be much appreciated.
A list of all of teh AR+bike posts on this blog can be found here.
The Lenovo ThinkReality A6, is a state of the art head mounted device, designed for industrial and medical uses. By looking at its features, we can gain insights into how to use AR to improve bicycling, especially safety.
The A6 is NOT designed for bicycling. Battery power is an obvious example of why the A6 is not likely to be used on the road. The A6 is claimed to have four hours of power. Bike trips longer than four hours would require consideration for recharging and/or batteries (and their weight). The A6 is not even being offered to individual consumers; it is a B2B product.
An excellent overview of all of the features of the A6 is here.
The A6 features worth discussing are:
This refers to the quality of the image. The A6 provides 1080 lines of resolution, which is very good, like a high definition television. A discussion of image quality must include the brightness of outdoor scenes. You cannot see any kind of information if it is lost in the brightness of the sun.
The advantage of voice control is obvious. Just say "Display an alternative route" and see the suggestion appear on your visor (or smart glasses). Safer and faster than pushing buttons, or even stopping to look at a phone or other device. The audio requirements that are unique to bicycling need to be considered.
The A6 can be "trained" to recognize specific components used in industrial or medical applications. For example, a connecting rod, or a femur. With bicycling, the ability to detect cars, pedestrians and other bicycles is advantageous, especially when combined with tracking. Imagine knowing that an 18 wheeler, traveling 80 miles an hour is 100 yards behind you- without having to turn your head or use your mirror.
Parents could be aware of where their children are. Bike team members can monitor their teammates and competitors.
HEAD GAZE TRACKING
This allows the digital information you are looking at to be properly positioned in your viewing area no matter where you are looking.
GESTURE CONTROLS and THREE DEGREES OF FREEDOM HAND CONTROLLER
These two functions may have no importance while riding, but once off the bike, the ability to control functions and displays by hand could be important for maintenance and repair.
At races and tournaments, barcodes could enable quickly changing information to be shared easily. A barcode could be designated for weather updates for example. A rider looking at that barcode would immediately know what to expect, as the weather information is automatically displayed in his or her viewing area.
The A6 has two fisheye cameras on the front. For bicyclist, one camera on the back is hugely advantageous, as the need to see what is behind is a primary concern.
The A6 has a light. Probably not powerful enough for bicycling, but worth thinking about. Like all things related to bicycles, weight and comfort are issues, as well as price, of course.
These are just some of the ways bike enjoyment and safety can be increased. When we add GPS and impact sensors, we create the opportunity for first responders to immediately know the location of the incident. Two way communication via cameras and voice allow for decisions and preparations to be made in the shortest time possible.
One last point: AR is just starting, which increases the chances of bicyclists having their needs met. If individuals, bike organizations and traffic regulatory agencies and bike equipment manufacturers start communicating now, the shorter the path towards increased AR-enhanced safety will be.
I welcome any questions or comments. Feel free to post below.
PS. I don't want to confuse things, but if you want to see how information might be displayed in visors or smart glasses, take a look at indoor bicycle training. The Rouvy system is full of examples. Look here. (Rouvy is not paying me!)
PSS This blog post is full of examples of AR+bicycling.
I will be giving a presentation at the Great Ohio Bike Adventure in June.(Scroll down halfway.)
FWIW, when the Oculus was released, I wrote this blog post about it.