Back in April 2022, we told you about Shoei’s first heads-up display helmet prototype, which the company debuted at the 2022 Osaka Motorcycle Show. At the time, we noted three important things. The first thing was that it already appeared to be nearly production ready.
The second thing was that Shoei talked about a planned release later in 2022. Finally, the third thing was that Shoei had already filed at least five patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office for this helmet—so the idea of it coming to the US in the future didn’t seem especially farfetched.
Sure enough, by November 2022, Shoei had announced that it would offer the Opticson as a limited release item—but one that would only be available in Japan. More specifically, it stuck to only releasing the Opticson in Shoei Gallery locations—of which there are only currently four throughout the country as of September 2023.
Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, and Kyoto each have a Shoei gallery—and anyone living elsewhere must travel to one of those four locations to access exclusive services such as the Shoei Personal Fitting System, as well as Shoei’s helmet repair services.
Anyway, now that it’s September 2023, we can tell you that Shoei hasn’t made any mention between then and now about bringing Opticson outside of Japan. However, that didn’t stop the plucky team at FortNine from deploying secret operatives to get their hands on an Opticson of their very own. In this video, you can find out what they thought of it. (Spoiler: They found it to be a bit lacking, and don’t regard it as being particularly future proof.)
The video is particularly interesting to watch from my perspective, because after the Opticson was announced, I’ve since had the opportunity to spend several weeks doing an in-depth review of the Forcite MK1S smart helmet.
See, the Forcite also features a heads-up display—of a kind. Unlike the Opticson, it’s not realized with a plastic panel that sits in front of one of your eyes and gives rise to unpleasant thoughts about how it could poke you in the event of a crash. Instead, it uses a carefully-placed, colored, frosted light bar inside the helmet to show you where to go.
Now, to be fair, the two helmets aren’t trying to visually convey exactly the same information. The Opticson, as Ryan F9 points out, wants to show you things like blind spot detection and other important operational warnings, in addition to navigation information. To do all that, you clearly need to do a little more than simply program some flashing lights.
On that side of the nav scale, the Forcite contents itself with gentle, directionally flowing lights in the chinbar that indicate whether you should turn left or right if you choose to use the navigation feature. That’s the extent of its visual information conveyance. I thought that it was reasonably good at what it did, but I also acknowledge that it might not be for everybody.
Upon its release in Japan last November, Shoei also noted that Opticson users would need to install a dedicated motorcycle navigation app on their smartphones for use with the helmet. More than just an app, the Touring Supporter service was also an ongoing subscription service—and it seemed as though that was the only way to get navigation features to work on that helmet. At the time, we wondered how Shoei might choose to adapt that connectivity to other markets, and that’s still not clear at this point.