We doubt even James Bond had ski goggles like these. Mounted inside the Recon Mod Live goggles is a small display, which shows your current speed, altitude and temperature while you're schussing down the slopes. But that's not all these GPS-enabled goggles can do. Is this 007-worthy accessory worth the $499 price?
From the outside, you wouldn't know that the Recon Mod Live system was in a pair of goggles. In fact, the Recon Mod device can fit into one of several goggles, including Alpina, Briko, Uvex and Zeal; ours was a pair of Briko googles with amber-tinted, slightly mirrored lenses.
Inside, on the lower right, is a small display that connects to the rest of the Recon Mod device, which unobtrusively fills the right and left side of the goggles. The two halves are connected by a wire that runs along the top of the goggles. The display is mounted on a small boom, which can be adjusted to the optimal angle for your eye. On the right edge is a small power button and microUSB port used to recharge the device.
A battery-powered remote, used to navigate through Recon Mod Live's menus, can be attached either to the goggles' headband or somewhere else on your person. Essentially, a large 4-way D-pad, it was easy to press all the buttons, even with gloves on.
Display and Interface
Although it's running Android 2.3.4, the Recon Mod Live's interface doesn't look anything like a smartphone. Upon turning on the goggles, you're presented with eight large, brightly colored icons: Dashboard, Music, Navigation, Phone, Settings, Stats, Chrono and Jump. Yes, the goggles will measure how much airtime you get. We weren't nervy enough to try this feature out, though.
At the top of the display is a clock (which we found very useful), and icons for battery life, Bluetooth, GPS, and if our phone was connected. We spent most of the time using the Dashboard, which itself has a few configurations. The view we preferred most showed our speed with a stopwatch below, the altitude and the temperature.
Although we could zoom in and out, maps in the Navigation section--which cover 590 resorts in 14 countries--were a little difficult to view. It's easier just to look at a physical trail map.
Recon has plans to unlock a camera connectivity app for use with point of view action cams and an SDK (software developer's kit) in May 2012, allowing users to create their own apps for MOD Live.
We got a real kick out of using the Recon Mod Live goggles, both on and off the slopes. Not only was it great to know definitively how fast we were going (we got up to 46 MPH on one run), but even something as basic as its clock was helpful when trying to get in that last run before the lifts closed. Because you have to cast your eye downward in order to see the display, we did not find it obtrusive while skiing, although we were tempted to keep peeking down to see our speed.
The GPS in the Recon Mod Live was quick to establish a signal, and we found the Mod Live's battery was enough to last a whole day of skiing, from about 9 in the morning to about 3-4 p.m.
The Briko goggles themselves were very comfortable, fitting well over our helmet. We liked their amber tint, which worked fairly well in overcast conditions to show changes in the terrain; and we never had a problem with fogging.
After downloading the free HQ Mobile app to our Nexus One, we could then connect the phone via Bluetooth to the goggles. Once connected, the goggles would display the names and numbers of callers, as well as text messages. While it's even more inadvisable to read text messages while skiing than while driving, we found this feature useful when trying to meet up with friends for apres ski.
With the Bluetooth connection established, we could also control our music using the controls on the side of the goggles. This option is great for those who like to listen to music while on the slopes, but don't want to keep pulling out their phones to change tracks.
The app itself has just three icons: Buddy Tracking (which lets you find friends, and they find you), Trip Viewer (which shows a summary of all your trips synced with the goggles), and Music. Overall, though, the app feels like a work in progress; it frequently crashed on us, especially when we were trying to control music from the goggles.
HQ App - Adobe Air
Recon also makes an app for Macs and PCs that lets you download your trip data from the goggles and post it online. The Adobe Air app is bright and colorful, and overlays all your runs on a Google map of the mountain. We could then select individual runs, and even see our speed and altitude at any point along it. We enjoyed being able to recount the trails we hit, and then share it with the Recon Mod Live community, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
On its own, the Recon Mod Live kit costs $399, and can be fitted into one of four goggles from Alpina, Briko, Uvex and Zeal. However, the only ones available in the U.S. are from Uvex and Zeal Optics. (Smith and Scott goggles are also on the way). On REI, the Uvex G.GL9 goggles with the Mod Live kit cost $539, and the Zeal Optics Z3 kit costs $549; however, the latter cost $499 on Amazon.
Skiing is an expensive sport, and a pair of $500 goggles won't make it any cheaper. However, for serious skiiers who really like to geek out, Recon Mod Live goggles are just the ticket for parsing all the data from your runs. About the only thing they can't do is make lift lines shorter.