We live in a world where we can be instantly connected to our family and friends, our favorite music, and the latest news and sports scores. That same technology provides motorcycle riders an enhanced experience on the road—and allows them to connect with each other like never before.
Bluetooth technology has been around for more than a decade. The most common experiences we have with Bluetooth technology are short-range, one-to-one communications between one device and another, such as a wireless mouse and our laptops, or headphones and a music player. We use Bluetooth with our cell phones, earbuds, and car audio systems. When it comes to motorcycle riding, many of us use Bluetooth technology to stream music from our smartphones to speakers in our helmets.
Wireless technology continues to rapidly advance, offering motorcycle riders some compelling communication functionalities through a Bluetooth enabled helmet headset.
Bluetooth Low Energy first reached the market in the iPhone 4S in October 2011. In short, the technological advancement used less power while offering higher quality sound in smaller devices.
This was perfect for adding an audio device to a motorcycle helmet, leading to the first generation of helmet communication and microphone audio products. Since Bluetooth is able to transmit over ranges from three feet to nearly a mile, depending on the usage environment, it's perfect for motorcycle communication devices.
In the years since, we've come a long way from early examples that only allowed for rider-to-passenger and limited motorcycle-to-motorcycle communication.
Bluetooth mesh technology is a relatively new advancement playing off of Bluetooth Low Energy. Released on July 18, 2017, Bluetooth mesh allows all units in range to link together. This technology is primarily used for connecting household or business lighting.
Consider the usefulness of this type of technology for the motorcycle community. Through Bluetooth headset audio, in a group ride, riders can leave and return to the group without interrupting the remaining group connections.
Imagine a group of riders getting separated by a traffic signal. The lagging riders are reconnected once they’re again in range of the forward group. With a motorcycle-to-motorcycle connection range of up to one mile, and a range of up to five miles across the connected group, it’s easy to see how this has revolutionized motorcycle-to-motorcycle communication.
Communication between riders, passengers, and larger groups is only the beginning of the functionalities new Bluetooth Low Energy mesh systems offer. Others include:
Open vs. closed groups: Some systems allow you to establish a closed group of motorcycle riders, offering a private conversation with your riding buddies. Another option allows for open mesh connections, where you can connect with any rider in range who's using a device with Bluetooth mesh technology.
Streaming music, podcasts, and more: It's now possible to connect to your smartphone and listen to your favorite streaming service or your music library. Some units also offer built-in FM radios, adding more options to play the soundtrack to your motorcycle riding adventure.
GPS: With a Bluetooth enabled GPS, you can hear turn-by-turn directions without having to look at the GPS screen. This allows you to keep your eyes on the road.
Phone calls: Yes, you can even receive or make a phone call using voice activation.
At the 2020 Consumer Electronic Show (CES), Bluetooth introduced the next generation of Bluetooth audio called LE Audio. One of the features of LE Audio is Broadcast Audio, where many devices can share the audio of one source. For instance, one cell phone could share music with several others, or one music source could be sent to many helmets on a group ride.
What a great way to have themed rides or have every motorcycle rider in your group enjoy an inspiring riding soundtrack while hitting the open road.
This communication technology offers many wonderful enhancements to riding motorcycles. Hands-free control of music, GPS, and phone calls is convenient. As you enjoy all the fun and features of helmet communication, remember that you don't want to become another distracted road user. Stay focused.
Till next time, ride safe!
The ability to communicate through your helmet can take your mind of how you're feeling, potentially leaving you vulnerable to riding fatigue. We’ll help you understand the dangers and how to avoid riding fatigue.
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*Data accuracy is subject to this article's publication date.