Thursday, April 16, 2015

Adventure Tech: Recon Jet Heads-Up Display For Outdoor Athletes

Here's a product I've had my eye on for some time, and it is now finally coming to market. Recon Instruments, a company that makes heads-up displays (HUD) for skiing and snowboarding googles,  has announced that their latest product – the Recon Jet – is now available. This wearable computer was built specifically with outdoor athletes in mind, and is designed to provide them with all kinds of information while they run, paddle, and ride.

The Jet is a lightweight set of sunglasses that includes a small HUD that sits at the lower right corner of the eye. The device pairs via Bluetooth with your smartphone to provide a data connection that can track performance, offers access to social sharing, and can capture both photos and video. The Jet also includes onboard GPS capabilities to track distance, speed, duration of workout, elevation gain and loss, and more. It'll even connect with other devices, such as a heart rate monitor, via ANT+ to display information as well. It will even display text messages and caller ID on it's small, but high resolution screen.

Recon has been developing the Jet since 2008, and a lot has changed in the technology world since then. But the designers have been forward thinking in their plans, and have created an SDK that will allow developers to create their own apps for the device. Additionally, the data collected and saved can be easily uploaded to other apps such as Strava and MyMapFitness. The company has even built its own Recon Engage web platform, and apps for iOS and Android as well.

Dust and water resistant, the Jet has been built to withstand daily use by outdoor athletes. It includes 8GB of storage onboard, and 1Ghz dual-core ARM Cortex-9 processor. In other words, it has plenty of power packed into its tiny frame. It's touch controls are reportedly operable in all kinds of weather, even if you're wearing gloves, and its integrated camera, speaker, and microphones will allow you to capture video, or answer phone calls, without having to reach for your phone.

Battery life is said to be about four hours of use, depending on what other devices are connected, and the entire package weighs in at about 85 grams (3 oz.) The Jet cannot be added to existing sunglasses, nor does Recon's frames support prescription lenses at this time.

Now for the bad news. Price? $699. That makes it cost prohibitive for most of us, even if it does offer some very cool functionality. As I mentioned above, I've been waiting for to learn more about this product for a long time, and it is great to see that it is finally here. But with such an exorbitant price tag, don't expect to see too many of these at your weekly running or cycling groups. It is also a bit reminiscent of Google Glass, a project that suffered from such a PR problem that it was sent back to the drawing board after those wearing it quickly became known as "glassholes."

The tech nerd in me would love to try these out, but since they don't support prescriptions, I'd only end up hurting myself. Still, the technology is promising if they can adapt it further, and bring the price. down. The video below will give you a further idea of how this works.

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