OAKLEY AIRWAVE SNOW GOGGLES
As with many recent new technologies head-up display (HUD) was first developed under the secretive umbrella of a government military program. HUD was designed to assist fighter pilots monitor mission-critical data while simultaneously keeping an enemy in the crosshairs. In a life or death situation it could provide a critical advantage to the pilot. From a military environment conception, HUD technology has now moved into a wider range of commercial applications. Car windshields can currently provide the critical information formerly housed in the car’s central control panel, reducing the need for drivers to look away from the road. Google Glass was a much ballyhooed first integration of HUD in eye glasses in which users could take photos or film video, display and scroll through maps, weather information, events, phone calls and social media updates. Ultimately mothballed to Google’s “experimental lab” in January 2015 it’s features will no doubt reappear in a different product down the road. From these humble beginnings arrives Oakley’s [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FNSOJTM” locale=”US” tag=”l04d5-20″]Airwave Snow Goggles[/easyazon_link] – a product aimed at the snow surfer who wants more than just a thrilling ride down a mountain.
Oakley’s [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FNSOJTM” locale=”US” tag=”l04d5-20″]Airwave Snow Goggles[/easyazon_link] allow skiers and snowboarders to tell you exactly how fast they were streaking down a mountain together with the distance, height and airtime of freestyle jumps. All of these stats can then be shared with friends on social media by way of Oakley’s accompanying smartphone app. Oaklye sources their HUD technology from Vancouver’s Recon Instruments known for their development of the Jet HUD sunglass used for cycling. Live data on current altitude and temperature is an ongoing feature display item of the glasses. Given a recent high profile accident that occurred with an on-head camera, one major concern in using the Airwave is how much of a distraction it is to have more than the ski trail flashing in front of your eyes. Given the aviation testing roots, in a much higher risk situation, it would seem safe to say that this newer form of navigation is a not an overwhelming safety concern as it’s placed comfortably in the bottom right corner of the goggles, outside of the critical field of vision.Airwave Snow Goggles also feature run tracking, jump analytics, a current speed display, a compass, friend tracking, music controls, and visual alerts for phone calls and text messages.
Trail Map GPS
Even more valuable than the basic data is the precise navigation presented for each trail thanks to 200+ ski resort maps that are built-into the software. There is no longer a need to stop, take off ski gloves – losing precious body heat – and unfold the map to figure out where you are going. Ski lifts appear as red lines, beginner trails as green and medium difficulty as blue. All of these features eliminate having to expose your hands to the frigid cold required when pulling out a physical map.
Skiing in a group? If your friends are also wearing Airwaves they will pop up on your visual map too. A ‘buddy tracking’ tool that tells you exactly how far ahead or behind your companions and are works well as long as they are also running the Oakley app. You can even view your phone’s incoming calls and texts, and access its music library. Download Recon’s Engage app on their phone to take advantage of the tracking feature.
Once the goggles are removed from the box plug them into a Mac via an included micro USB cable to update them. Software for the Snow2 accessory is managed through a browser plug-in and work well with either OSX or PC. For iPhones you can use either the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00J7PKIEC” locale=”US” tag=”l04d5-20″]Oakley[/easyazon_link] App or a Recon Instruments Engage application. Both apps offer the very similar functions – so similar that it may actually be the same app underneath the labels.
Note that Operating Snow2 without a connected device will cause a loss of some features such as music controls, companion tracking and online data sharing when you are still on the mountain.
A huge plus for the image conscious fashionista type is that nobody around will know you are using a navigational display. All of the “tech” features are hidden. If you want to be a videographer-tech-geek who’s selfie searching snowboard ways are the talk of the mountain then these are not the goggles for you. If stealthy tech competence is you cup of tea then read on.
A tiny monitor floats in the lower right corner of the lens rather than in front of your face so your eyes don’t have to switch focus from near to far perspective. The monitor displays a steady stream of information, including your speed, airtime analytics, incoming texts and calls, current music track, and a self/buddy location tracker transmitted via GPS. The screen looks small at the from the photo, but it’s perfectly adequate when wearing close to your eye.
The goggles connect to your mobile Apple or Android phone via Bluetooth and can be set up to display notifications such as text messages or email along with music playlists. Navigating menus is done with a plastic directional pad that either straps to your wrist via velcro or attaches to the Snow Goggle headband. Trying to check your email while on a ski lift in the freezing cold while holding your poles is difficult and uncomfortable. Airwave Snow Goggles remedy this inconvenience by allowing you to view e-mail notifications on screen although replying to them will still require usage of your smartphone.
Beware in frigid northern environments or high altitudes some features may not update. The screen will function and the compass continue to work but the GPS may not be refreshed. According to Oakley it’s goggles have a lower temperature limit of -4 Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius). Note that Apple’s iPhone is also rated to function above -4 Fahrenheit. Photographers keep critical equipment in an airtight case for protection from exposure to extreme elements. If exposed beyond the recommended temperature zone electronic equipment will simply shut down. Be aware of this important point for your safety but for most winter enthusiasts this will only rarely be a valid concern.
Anti-fogging prevents view obstruction and ice crystallization issues. Lens colors transition from a yellow filter during the day to a blue tint at dusk. In this way the Airwave’s perform the standard goggle functions without issues.
Oakley is now partnering with a company called Garmin to integrate their VIRB action cam with the new Airwave 1.5—a heads-up-display goggle that’s a good deal more evolved than its predecessor.
There are three key upgrades to the current Airwave Snow Goggles:
Wifi: Fully compatible with the VIRB camera which means you can now watch footage and control the camera through the Airwave. Oakley switched from Bluetooth to WiFi improving the digital signal communication.
Video Data Overlay: Your footage can be overlayed with the data captured by the goggle. So you can wrap up an epic session in the terrain park, then easily overlay the video with stats like speed, vertical feet, and distance. The VIRB already offered something similar: it can overlay data (think heart rate) from other Garmin devices like the Edge 810.
Third-Party Compatibility: Oakley’s release doesn’t say this deal is exclusive: “Wirelessly connect to compatible Wi-Fi enabled cameras, such as the Garmin VIRB Elite action camera.” (Italics are ours, not theirs.) You may notice that your GoPro also talks to devices via WiFi. That makes us wonder how soon we’ll start seeing more ski goggles intergrated with a whole range of action cams, especially since Recon’s SDK (Software Development Kit) is open, allowing third parties to play in the Recon ecosystem.
That Recon back-end allowed Smith to do a tie-up with Contour cameras a while ago. Smith didn’t comment on the Oakley deal, and declined to elaborate on any irons they may have in the fire—which is another way of saying “watch this space.”
What’s In The Box?
The Airwave comes in an impressive two-shelved box that’s large, but plenty sturdy to hold the equipment. Inside, the goggles come with a carrying bag to hold everything, as well as a protective soft cloth bag to prevent scratches from occurring on the lenses. Also included with the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00624WIZ8″ locale=”US” tag=”l04d5-20″]Oakley Airwave[/easyazon_link] is a special oversized wrist controller for easier menu navigation when wearing less dexterous ski or snowboarding gloves. Wrap it around the wrist with the velcro band it’s rugged design allows it to survive the winter elements you will be facing outdoors.
The [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FNSOJTM” locale=”US” tag=”l04d5-20″]Oakley Airwave[/easyazon_link] retails for $649.
Pair the $649 Airwave 1.5 and $400 Garmin VIRB Elite tethered via Wifi for a far clearer preview on the HUD LCD. Your iOS or Android phone acts as mediator between these two.
Who Should Buy?
The biggest appeal for buying the Oakley Airwave Snow Goggles is its ability to provide instantly accessible, GPS-enabled interactive trail maps while skiing or snowboarding for the first time at a new resort. That makes this a highly desirable purchase for winter sport enthusiasts who travel to a variety of resorts within the ski season. Overall, Oakley Airwave Snow Goggles deliver some of the experience promised by Google Glass in a more focused application that comes free of many of the problems that came with its predecessor.
One thing the first release of Airwave Snow Goggles was missing was an on-board camera. After shelling out for the expensive goggles you still needed to buy a camera for recording your journey. That is no longer the case as it can now be paired with the Garmin VIRB Elite which makes it a formidable challenger to GoPro cameras. With all the added navigational features and social connections all fit stealthily into the classic Oakley Snow Goggles this makes for a compelling buy for those looking to have all their needs met in one polished product.