January 18, 2011, 12:07 PM — It's easy to predict that technology will produce some really cool things in the future and actually believe them. The complete lack of warp drive, personal replicators or personal hovercraft could embitter those of us who are constantly optimistic about the gap between miraculous potential and mundane reality.
Since fall, Vancouver-based Recon Instruments has been selling ski goggles with GPS and a heads-up display that tells you your speed, time, altitude, distance travelled and location on the mountain, all without taking your eyes off the trail or the tree that's rushing toward you way faster than a tree should be able to move.
The display comes from a pair of micro-LCDs that shine directly into the user's retina, using less power and obstructing the view of the killer tree to less of a degree than other HUD designs might if they were squeezed into such a small space.
There are plenty of heads-up displays for cars, with night vision, GPS and other data, and a few for motorcycles or other smaller situations. Even in those applications they're still rare because of the cost and demand for battery power.
Recon's first version costs between $400 and $430, depending on your choice of lenses.
It comes with a rechargeable lithium battery the company said will last about eight hours at room temperature (rare while skiing), or six hours at 14 Fahrenheit. They're good for 300 to 500 complete cycles, recharge with a USB connection and have to be replaced at the factory because "they're buried pretty deeply in there."
That's inconvenient but, for a google, pretty impressive.
The GPS doesn't display trail maps, but Recon is working on downloadable software to allow that.