The factors that come to mind when we see a new vehicle on the road are Performance, Design, Safety and Comfort. Performance, design and safety find a place in the discussion whether the vehicle in question runs on four wheels or two. Comfort, on the other hand, has typically been less of a debating point for two wheelers than it is for four wheelers.
In some ways, this is easy to comprehend – a four-wheeler purchase is followed by accessorization for the vehicle while a two-wheeler purchase is followed by accessorization for the vehicle as well as the rider. It is up to the rider to negotiate his/her way through the maze of personal accessories (jackets, gloves, shoes, helmets, infotainment systems) and decide the level of riding comfort. This distinction in accessorization for four and two wheelers is also a reason why infotainment systems (CarPlay and the like) have received far more attention for four wheelers.
We believe that the timing is right for this status-quo to be challenged. Sparkling new highways that have dramatically increased the scope for leisure and exploratory riding now stand side by side with intra-city roads where a traffic view on Google Maps resembles our heart’s artery system with streaks of red everywhere. Commuters and leisure-seeking weekend travellers are increasingly shedding their four wheelers for a two-wheeled ride – the only thing they miss is the comfort they are used to with their four-wheeled ride. Enter BluArmor!
BluArmor – the Genesis
We started BluArmor in early 2017 with the purpose of bringing car-like comfort to motorcycles and scooters – car-like comfort meaning temperature control, filtered air, de-fogging and assisted infotainment. We looked at the product landscape to see what was already available – there were several infotainment products on offer, but there really weren’t any products that offered cool or clean air for the rider. This meant that with these features, we would be creating a new product category, and needed to stay patient as the rider-community went through the steps captured in Figure 1 (what we termed the “category-acceptance” meter)
Figure 1: The “category-acceptance” meter for BluArmor
Our approach to delivering “car-like” comfort
We realized that it would take us at least a couple of years to go through these steps and the only way to traverse them was by releasing a product or two (even if it had its share of limitations) in the market. We launched BluSnap (and subsequently BluSnap2) with the awareness that these would be learning-vehicles first and revenue-generators later. We also wanted to hear from customers around the world, and set up distributors in regions like South America, South East Asia, Central America, and the Middle East. Over the past 18 months, we have listened carefully to all our customer inputs, worked through each meaningful ask, and deliberated on everything from the components we use, our approach to design and the choice and finish of our plastic parts.
While this was happening, our electronics and software teams were working in the background to ensure that we would offer never-before-seen features with our connectivity solution that would completely disrupt the experience for the rider. We evaluated the different Bluetooth solutions in the market, and decided to focus on the following areas as we realized they had significant room for improvement.
- a) How can we make it safe and easy for riders to avail all the services they need while they are riding?
- b) How can we leverage the advances in smartphone technology to minimize the hardware cost and build on powerful tech that’s already available on the phone?
- c) How do we use location and rider-state awareness to offer the right services at the right time?
The Result – our revolutionary helmet cooler just got a whole lot smarter
We are really excited that it’s all coming together with our next flagship product, the BLU3 E20. BLU3 E20 will be the world’s first two-wheeler accessory that flows cool, clean air into the helmet with assisted infotainment for the rider. Figure 2 captures 10 of its unique features that we believe will make the rider universe fall in love with BLU3 E20.
Figure 2: BLU3 E20’s unique features
- Cool air into the helmet that is as much as 15 degrees Celsius cooler than the ambient with 100%+ increase in airflow vs. BluSnap2
- Tune airflow-rate and airflow-direction to suit individual convenience. The wet-dunk filter comes with a locking mechanism for safe and easy refilling.
- Wet-filtration technology that results in a dust-free ride
- A single, large click-surface for all user operations – activation is based on the type of click on the surface. This is powered by our proprietary SAeFEx (Situation-aware Actions engineered For an Easy experience) technology and is designed keeping in mind the need for quickness and simplicity of action, ruggedness, and repetitive use.
- Control BLU3 E20 using Siri or the Google Assistant. With Siri/Google Assistant, you can turn on the fan, change the fan speed, query for battery percentage, call your pillion, and much more.
- Access BLU3 E20’s manual using Siri/Google Assistant. To assist you when you have a “how-do-I” moment, we have integrated BluArmor Help with Siri/Google Assistant. For example, A “how do I change the fan setting” query will give you simple instructions on how you change the fan setting.
- Record location-aware voice notes. Record a voice note as you pass a location, and hear it played back to you when you approach that location again – isn’t that a fantastic way to set reminders-to-self?
- Hear your WhatsApp messages as they come in.
- Upgrade BLU3 E20’s firmware over the air (OTA). Your BLU3 E20 will always run with the latest firmware available.
- Dynamic control of fan speed and audio volume based on riding speed - tuned for best experience at the lowest battery usage.
It goes without saying that BLU3 E20 supports the features that riders expect to have in a good Bluetooth headset – make phone calls, listen to music, hear directions and talk to the pillion rider. BLU3 E20 integrates an adaptive wind-noise filter that ensures audio quality at high riding speeds.
Grand plans realized through frugal innovation
One of our key objectives through the course of this development has been the importance of providing a wide range of features at a cost that is affordable to motorcycle riders around the world. This has been achieved by partitioning our system in a manner that leverages the computing power and capability of the smartphone keeping the investment in additional hardware to a minimum - In our view, the hardware’s role is to support real-world interface and connectivity to the phone; everything else should be handled in software. We have architected the “BLU3 E20” experience in a way that future improvements like getting data from existing sensors on the phone (ex: accelerometers that will allow the system to detect a crash), or enabling new features (ex: multi-caller intercom feature through an internet-based conferencing system) can be offered as software upgrades without the need for the user to change the hardware.
BLU3 E20 Launch Plan
We have invested a lot into building the technology platforms for cooling, filtration and assisted infotainment, and are very excited with the number of new features we have packed into BLU3 E20. BLU3 E20 will be formally launched in January 2020 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Where does that leave you? Please hang on as we get BLU3 E20 ready for production. If you are interested in knowing more, you can sign up here. We will keep you posted on our production-readiness and share exciting early-bird offers (opportunity to beta-test the product, steep early-bird discounts, etc.)