Good Idea: BEARTek Bluetooth Motorcycle Gloves

12/03/2012 @ 9:45 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Having used a number of bluetooth headsets over the years, I can tell you that I generally loathe the technology. For starters, it usually means an add-on item that involves wires snaking around my head and neck, with some sort of cumbersome box precariously latched to the side of my helmet (or worse, permanently affixed). Over the past decade, the technology has gotten better, especially with the popularity and compatibility of bluetooth devices, but I have yet to see an elegant solution in this space. Most of this boils down to the UX.

With leather riding gloves, hopelessly small buttons become impossible to manage, and heaven forbid I am wearing thicker winter gloves. Voice-activated controls are sketchy as well, especially when on a revving motorcycle, and somehow my audible commands to change an MP3 track have me instead accidentally calling ex-girl friend, which only leads to more frantic fumblings for the right button/command combination — keep in mind, this is all while riding a motorcycle at speed on a freeway, an endeavor already with its own set of perils.

At this point in time, I have pretty much given up on a good integrated solution. Established manufacturers don’t seem to be answering the call (pun intended) by upgrading their offerings to keep pace with technology, and add-on systems are still cumbersome and inelegant solutions. Yet, I still have the desire for intercity rides where I can listen to turn-by-turn directions, and long highway treks where my Pandora stations could make the miles pass a little quicker.

One small company is helping me keep the faith a this point, as the motorcycle gloves from BEARTek are showing some promise. Devising a glove-based bluetooth controlling system, BEARTek has devised a clever way of controlling one’s smartphone while on a motorcycle, making at least part of the connected-rider equation look promising. I have some business notes though…of course.

Placing six touch-points on the fingers of motorcycle glove (it looks like they have other models for snowmobilers, skiers, etc as well), BEARTek’s system makes it easy for one to adjust the volume, changes audio tracks, and answer calls with ease and minimal distraction.

Half the issues I have with current systems are that I have to take my clutch hand off the bike, and bring it up to my helmet in order to fumble with an add-on system. Not only does this make for an awkward position, but in the process of knocking my helmet around, one of my two hands is hopelessly far away from where it should be while riding a motorcycle.

However, with BEARTek’s system, simple commands are made with slight gestures, which cuts down on how much of a rider’s attention is taken away from actually riding the motorcycle, as well as keeping the intrusion to the riding position at a minimum. Chewy.

Launching the idea on Kickstarter, BEARTek is currently about $40,000 from reaching its funding goal for the project, though a $170 pledge gets you a pair of the company’s motorcycle gloves through the funding site (they have their own website as well). A very innovative and smart idea, if you happen to like the gloves being offered, we would recommend picking a set up from the American company (we would be interested in hearing some reviews from readers as well).

As much as I love this idea though, it is still a non-starter for me. For the same reason I don’t buy the bluetooth integrated helmets that are on the market, I have no interest in buying a generic brand motorcycle glove…even if it has a very smart bluetooth system built into it. Instead, I would like to see BEARTek license the technology to companies like Dainese, Alpinestars, REV’IT, etc.

A licensing deal would not only be a better business move for BEARTek, but it would benefit riders as well, as they would get the protection they are looking for with the name brands, but also the value-added technology developed by BEARTek.

Paired with a bluetooth enabled helmet (Dainese/AGV anyone? Or better yet a universal system where an Arai helmet talks to a pair of gloves from Alpinestars), this could be a real knockout punch item. We’ll have to wait and see where things go, but it is good to see some innovation going on in the motorcycle apparel space. Keep it up guys.

Source: BEARTek via Bikes in the Fast Lane

  • Kevin

    To tweek your point and make it my own, as much as I love this idea, it is still a non-starter for me. For the same reason I don’t buy the bluetooth integrated helmets that are on the market, I have no interest in buying anything that allows me to talk on my phone or listen to music while riding a motorcycle.

    I appreciate the technology advancement, but when is enough stimulation enough? As if riding a motorcycle isn’t entertaining or engaging enough, we need to be able to talk on our cell phone and listen to Pandora while riding? I think not.

  • I can see where you’re coming, though I think the pivot point comes when you’re commuting, not joyriding.

    Getting nav directions in my ear when I’m going somewhere new saves me a lot of time, especially when I have to pull over, get my gloves off, and fish out my phone for the map app when I’m lost…which is often.

  • Daniel Croft

    I have an external BT headset that I use quite a lot. I’ve tried several helmets with integrated BT and found them to be lacking. I think the fundamental issue with BT helmets (aside from UX) is that helmet manufacturers haven’t really innovated (or every really created a new product) in 20 years. But, we all keep paying top dollar for it so why change?

  • RibzMcSaucy

    What button do I push to be able to make my bike slide like that at the end of the video?

  • Bob Krzeszkiewicz

    I’m with Kevin but also agree with Jensen. I don’t desire the extra elecronic stimulation on a joy ride but I do listen to music while on a 6000 mile vacation. So it has its place.

    I also agree with Jensen on the licensing of the technology. The company will likely sell a limited amount of gloves for the very reason he states….it’s not a name brand and model that riders are familiar with. I’m an Alpinestars guy myself…GP Pro and WR-3 for winter. There’s a whole lot of money to be made by licensing the tech to all the manufacturers out there simply because it can end up on a specific model glove that has a huge following already. Beartek doesn’t make gloves. It’s not their specialty. Leave that to those that do specialize in it. Beartek can stick to what they know.

    Perhaps if they contacted a manufacturer and asked them to build a run of 1000 GP Pro or whatever gloves and asked them to offer them along side their current line, they’d get where they are going and quicker.

  • froryde

    Wouldn’t voice control / command be a better solution (assuming it works flawlessly)? You don’t even have to take your hands off the grips at all then.

  • MotoBell

    On the Business:
    – point is valid on licensing but beartek has to prove a market exists and then will be able to license
    – you could argue the licensing the ip once developed and proven is a bigger business play for them than become a safety equipment mfr

    On the technology:
    – Agree with Kevin , I don’t want it

    On consumer experience:
    – Neat but still I have to charge multiple BT devices

  • MotoBell

    oh wanted to add.

    I think this has more viability in skiing and snowboarding as a market than motorcycling. I actually would pay for this for my snowboarding and don;t care who makes the glove as longs as it has the requisite thinsulate etc..

    where on 2 wheels, I only want to ride and even if this is useable on long tours I want it on trusted safety equipment manufacturer

  • Darth Vader

    You have failed me for the last time General!

  • Keith

    No thanks, don’t need bluetooth anything. Don’t have a cellphone, not even a disposable tracphone. Don’t need one. Heck I don’t even own a GPS and haven’t used one since 03 (was using a Rockwell GPS). I’ve a pair of headphone / earplugs that I dont’ even plug into my tapeplayer anymore. If you can’t navigate without GPS…you sholdn’t be leaving the house anyway. Help? Heh…if I can’t fix it I walk, if I can’t walk I’ll crawl and if I can’t crawl. Well I guess it’s time for a nap…

  • BBQdog

    Why don’t they invent a helmet with bleutooth which detects a riders stops and opens the visor just a little bit. Or ventilate it in another way. Now I have to do this at every traffic light myself :-(