The ski and snowboarding season is upon us, and there are a number of tech products out there that let you track your runs, keep in touch with buddies, and listen to music, but the Recon Mod Live just might be one of the coolest gadgets for skiers and snowboarders yet.
Developed by Recon Instruments, the Mod Live uses a micro-optic display (hence, Mod) to project real-time information about your run, such as distance, speed, altitude, and vertical drop, right inside your ski goggles. The product consists of a mini computer on the right side that includes a GPS chip, accelerometers, a mini LCD, and 600MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, which is connected to a battery on the left side through a single cable. Users then insert the Mod Live into their goggles to view a virtual dashboard of stats.
Our initial reaction to the Mod Live was to worry that skiers and snowboarders would be distracted by all this information, posing a hazard to everyone else on the slopes. However, Recon says that the virtual image is very small and likened it to viewing a 14-inch (diagonally) image from five feet away.
Also, Mod Live doesn't display the stats right in front of you. Riders have to look down with their right eye to see the display in their goggles. Mark Olson, a spokesperson for Recon, likened it to a car dashboard. "Think of how you use the dashboard in your car. You glance at the speedometer or fuel gauge occasionally. You do not fixate on them for long periods of time. The Mod Live is designed to be used the same way," said Olson in an e-mail to CNET.
In addition to the stats mentioned above, the Mod Live also shows jump analytics, location, time, and temperature. It can also connect to your Android smartphone via Bluetooth so you can see your text messages, listen to music playlists, and more. A Bluetooth-enabled remote control allows you to scroll through the various information and can be worn on your jacket.
Once you've finished your day on the slopes, a desktop client allows you to upload your data and share it with friends and compare with other Mod Live users.
Currently, the product works only with certain goggles from Uvex, Alpina, Zeal, and Bricko, but the company says it will be adding more manufacturers in the next year. Compatibility with other smartphone platforms is also in the works.
The Recon Mod Live is available now for $399 at a variety of sporting good retailers, including REI and Sports Chalet, as well as Amazon. If you don't need the smartphone connectivity, there is also a Recon Mod model for $299.