Recon MOD, MOD Live ski goggle display: first impressions

At the New York CES Preview on Wednesday evening, we had a chance to check out the newly announced MOD and MOD Live heads-up display units from Recon, which give skiers, snowboarders and mountain bikers the ability to see real-time analytics of their downhill runs.

Both the MOD and MOD Live displays fit inside enabled ski goggles, and display everything from speed to jump altitude and time in the air on a tiny 428×240 LCD display, which sits just inside the peripheral vision, below the right eye. Powering the MOD units is a AMD Cortex-A8 600MHz processor. The MOD Live even runs on Android 2.3, and can connect to an Android smartphone via Bluetooth, giving adrenaline junkies the ability to view who’s calling, answer calls, receive texts and respond to texts with canned responses. The units are controlled via a remote, which straps onto the outside of your jacket.

While the Android connection is great, especially for long rides up the chair lift when you don’t want to risk pulling your phone out of your pocket, the real benefits of the MOD and MOD Live is the wealth of real-time stats it provides. Curious how fast you’re bombing down the mountain? MOD will tell you. Wondering where your friends are on the hill? Built-in trail maps and GPS can pinpoint your location, and the location of any of your riding buddies. 

One of the coolest features — especially if you’re particularly daring — is the jump tracker, which allows users to see exactly how high they just launched themselves in the air, and the length of their hang-time. We tested this out simply by tossing the MOD Live demo model in their air. And, sure enough, there it was: 14.6 feet, 0.98 seconds. Definitely cool. 

Other features include distance traveled, altitude, temperature and number of runs. 

When we first heard about the MOD and MOD Live, we expected something so distracting as to pose a safety risk. And, if you’re stupid about it, it’s certainly possible to let the in-goggle display keep you from running over the ski school class in front of you. But the display itself is surprisingly unobtrusive in the line of vision. Our demonstrator described the MOD as distracting as a car dashboard — you can see it, if you look down, but it’s not in the way. From our limited tests, we’d agree with that assessment. 

The MOD and MOD Live units only fit in select goggles, but the company has plans to expand to more brands soon. Also in the pipeline is a head-mounted video camera, which use the MOD display as a viewfinder. 

The MOD costs $299, the Android-enabled MOD Live is $399, and the enabled goggles will cost between $149 and $199 — so you’re looking at a $500 to $600 investment once all is said and done. Yes, that is expensive. But everything about skiing and snowboarding is expensive, so that’s not really saying much. 

We hope to get some real hands-on time with the MOD Live later this winter, on the slopes. But for now, we can say this is an awesome, but totally luxurious, accessory that we totally want, dude.

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