Technology

Virtual Reality

Aprilia Introduces Virtual Reality to Motorcycling…But Not How You Might Think

Tech experts agree, the next major technological revolution on the horizon will be in virtual reality devices, immersing users in simulated worlds where they can do everything from play video games to solve engineering problems. But Aprilia is already using virtual reality for their MotoGP team – and it’s not for their riders, but instead, for their crew! Learn how here. 

 

 

The last time we reported on augmented reality helmets here at BikeBandit, it was about the shutdown of the much-celebrated helmet company Skully, which gained millions in funding in 2014 only to quietly shut down completely two years later after shipping scarecely any of their highly publicized “augmented reality” motorcycle helmets.

Since that high-profile debacle, the concept of using virtual reality technology in the motorcycle world appears to have stalled, with seemingly no company wanting to enter the market of digitally enhanced motorcycle helmets after Skully’s demise.

But the technology did show much promise – and while Skully likely bit off much more than it could chew at the time, the world of virtual reality technology has rocketed forward since. Tech companies have invested huge sums of money into the technology with applications in everything from complex engineering to video games, and the rapidly developing market is now primed for a re-visit of the technology in the motorcycle world.

Italian motorcycle manufacturer Aprilia appears to be the first major motorcycle company to take the leap, after an announcement that they will be introducing “augmented reality,” or “AR” helmets into use for their MotoGP team. However, it’s not the kind of helmet that you probably think.

 

By introducing “augmented reality” helmets like these for their race teams, Aprilia is completely changing the game in how racing pit crews operate, and this could signal a whole new type of competition in MotoGP.
“Augmented Reality” vs. “Virtual Reality”

What is AR exactly? Well, onsider it a stepping stone between the existing world we live in, and the completely simulated world of virtual reality. Instead of hardware and software combining to create a completely immersive virtual world (i.e. what you would experience in a video game), AR only “augments” the standard view of the physical world by overlaying information over the top of it. Similar to what you may have seen in movies such as “Predator,” “Terminator,” and “RoboCop,” the user can still see the real world in real time, but with the aid of critical information delivered in an active display.

 

 

The difference between AR and VR is ultimately only how much of the real world is being experienced by the user of the technology – and, interestingly, Aprilia actually plans to use both.

Aprilia is planning to use this major leap forward in technology in the paddocks in two ways. The first one is allowing their mechanics and engineers to use the information overlays to become more efficient in the pits, and optimize tuning and adjustments. As seen in Aprilia’s press release photos, a team mechanic can merely look at a bike and see not only critical information like coolant temp, oil pressure, fuel level, and tire pressure, but even highly specific information like the number of laps on a set of tires, or current suspension settings. The helmet even comes equipped with a thermal camera, so a mechanic can physically “see” operating temps on equipment!

But the second way Aprilia plans to use this technology is when the bike isn’t even in the paddock – this is where more “virtual reality” comes into play. Utilizing the helmet’s display, Aprilia’s team can visualize a realistic 3-D model of the team’s RS-GP race bike, discussing strategies, rehearsing scenarios, and even making notes directly into the AR system for future use.

Utilizing this futuristic technology will certainly make Aprilia’s race teams more efficient in the pits during races, where a difference of mere seconds can win races. But we see a third benefit to the technology that Aprilia didn’t announce – the eventual trickle-down of this technology into potential consumer applications. Click Here…

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