UCLEAR HBC100 Boomless Helmet Communicator
I would like to pop my head in here and introduce myself and my company.
My name is Andy and I work for BITwave USA. We are launching the UCLEAR HBC100 Bluetooth Helmet Communicator.
This is the industry's first Boomless microphone helmet communicator. This is a Bluetooth Helmet Communication system that cancels environment noise while picking up on your voice.
We are diligently working to build our brand and create some buzz around our HBC100 Helmet Communicator. We are a small company (but growing quickly) and we are going to rely on sites like the ADVrider forum for product feedback and reviews.
You can check out our website at:
or find us on Facebook
or on Amazon
If any one has any questions, feel free to contact my at firstname.lastname@example.org
Looks cool...where can I see prices?
Check the Amazon page above, or you'll find us on Amazon if you search for "uclear." The retail is $199.95!
I discovered your BT Intercom on the new products page at Revzilla.com. Good place to sell them if the product stands up to its claims. Anthony at Revzilla rated your system as 'adequate at hiway speeds'. Not outstanding, just 'adequate'. Adequate is a relative term when it comes to helmet noise vs speaker volume. Hearing 50% wind rush against 50% music or conversation is fatiguing at best, annoying and frustrating at worse.
I have earbuds that have dB limiters at 90dB, and on the hiway at 80mph they are overwhelmed by wind noise (Bell Star helmet). I ride a 2006 Honda Interceptor with a Givi touring windscreen, not a Honda Goldwing with 'boy in a bubble' sound capability. At 90dB music through my earbuds sounds more like an annoying swarm of mosquitos than it does music.
Now I like the idea of a boomless system as much as the next guy, but I also know that earbuds beat speakers anyday of the week when it comes to sound volume and quality. Your technology might cancel out extraneous noises internally, meaning they won't pick up or transmit noise other than the users voice, but the human ear does not do this, especially inside a motorcycle helmet which amplifies wind noise in the riders unplugged ears.
Speakers would have to practically be against the ears for optimal sound performance. That's just not the case when you have to adhere them away from the ears against the inner shell of a helmet. If someone tells me they can hear their music loud and clear while cruising on the hiway at 80-90mph from a set of speakers mounted against their helmet shell I know they're lying, or they're sitting inside a car!
Any system would have to be painful to the ear in order to overcome the air gap in the helmet. I know you tout auto volume leveling on this system as well, but then if it is using a safe decibel level for the human ear (90dB or less) it's also not going to be very loud at speeds on the hiway. I highly doubt I could hear my phone playing music through your system at your claimed 137-145mph, let alone 80-90mph.
I know all about white noise and blue noise cancellation technologies, but again how can you overcome the air gap noise generated (speaker to ear gap) inside the helmet? You use that technology in your microphone so that yes, they hear my voice and not the motorcycle, but the speakers DO NOT generate noise cancelling waveforms that would cancel wind noise reaching my ear! Not that that tech is not out there, it's just not available in miniature yet.... sort of. Bose and a few others make noise cancelling earbuds, and they sell for close to $200 all by themselves!
I've seen you start a conversation on another forum (Concours) for riders, and I have to agree with their assesment - If WebBikeWorld gives you a rave review, then I would be inclined to purchase your product. But I also know that BIT Tech puts out some cheap-o BT Intercoms made in China and sold on Ebay, so that really hurts your street cred, IMO.
The unit looks solid, the the tech is solid, but I think it would be suitable at city speeds at best. Music's not enjoyable to a true audiophile unless it's clean, clear, and unencumbered by extraneous noise sources. Bose is one example of headphone and earphone tech that accomplishes this, but in miniature in a comm system such as yours and all the others out there it is, again, not yet a reality. If it were your system would be about $500 or more, not $200, and you'd use earbuds, not speakers.
What are the speaker specs as far as input and output sensitivity, and min/max output volume in decibels? Keeping in mind that normal conversation levels are about 45dB, if it can't produce about 100+ decibels output then it's going to be battling ambient helmet noise trying to reach my ears at an acceptable playback volume on the hiway.
I'm not shelling out $200 to find out I am right, only to find out I can't return them once mounted on a helmet with either the sticky or velcro options.
What say you in response to these arguments?
Thank you for the very insightful and thought out comment. I appreciate your interest in our Helmet Communicator.
A couple of things, first BITwave is a high tech R&D company that does a lot of contract work for large organizations. UCLEAR is BITwave's consumer brand and the HBC100 Helmet Communicator is the first product to hit the consumer market.
You can buy the HBC100 on eBay new, however I would like to know where you found these "cheap-o BT Intercoms made in China" on eBay. You might have us confused with someone else.
Second, this is brand new technology and there's really nothing like it on the market. BITwave holds a number of patents on this audio communication technology. BITwave's audio technology was developed for the military to use in extreme noise environments on the battlefield.
The HBC100 uses Adaptive Beam Forming and Directional Microphone Array Technology which forms a virtual cone around the user's mouth and picks up on the user's voice. While the Adaptive noise suppression feature suppresses environment noise using multiple DSP based algorithms.
This technology eliminates the need for a boom-mic.
With that said, you can install the HBC100 on just about any helmet, 1/2 face, modular, or flip face helmets.
I suggest that you read the technology page at
The technical volume specs on our products are voice 97.7 dBs and music 97 dBs. Louder speaker have potential to harm the user's hearing. The speakers are Hi-Fi Stereo 20-20.000 Hz and with AVRCP and A2DP Bluetooth profiles, you get CD quality sound.
Your right, these don't cancel noise the noise that you hear. The noise that you experience when your riding depends on personal conditions, ie your helmet, your bike, highway noise, ect. I also understand a lot of people wear ear plugs, I know I have from time to time.
The speakers typically are installed in the speaker pockets in your helmet, similar to other helmet communicators.
I understand this is new technology and a new product so I understand your reservations. We are working to garner street cred and proper reviews. :)
Keep the questions rolling
Have not looked at your links but you asked for questions.... Can this tech be used with a with a vhf radio instead of a regular mike? Thanks.
Does your VHF radio a 2.5 mm audio jack? The WT300 is a walkie talkie adapter that links the HBC100 to a two-way radio. It comes with a Push To Talk remote that mounts to your handle bars.
The WT300 is about the size of a cell phone. It extends the range of the HBC100 to that of your walkie talkie and supports an unlimited number of riders.
I can send you more info if you pm me your email.
Bought one yesterday
Ok Andy, I took the bait and I bought 2 units, one for myself and my wife (so we could finally "cut" the cords) from Maxxim Honda in Allen, Texas... I told them I was skeptical and made sure I would have some recourse if it didn't live up to it's claims.
After charging over night, and putting it into my helmet (HJC Symax II - a flip up style) and doing some ground testing only... the audio quality is pretty nice. I can't compare it to anything but what I had previously, which was a chatterbox basic wired unit that works with my Goldwing. The bluetooth pairs fine to my iPhone and I can hear the caller just fine. I can even initiate a call from the UClear unit.
BUT, when I talk, the person on the other end says I either sound like I'm in a hole or it's distorted and mechanical. This is a show stopper for me already and will be taking the unit back unless there's something more I need to do to make this work.
Any ideas Andy???
By the way, my name is "Andy" too.
Andy, I sent you a PM with some tips on how to correct this issue.
Keep us posted on how this works out...
I don't need to read your website info to know that this is not 'new tech'. It may be tech wrapped in a new package, but it's not new tech. It's simply a different setup of the same old stuff.
The mics used are what we in the communications field call short throw uni-directional mics (one way... and facing the intended sound source). The reason they don't pick up much in the way of road or ambient noise outside the helmet is because they simply can't reach out any farther than the distance to the front of the mouth. That's a function of the mic's sensitivity. The 'cone' yours creates around the mouth is simply predicated on the sensitivity of the mics themselves.
Andy stated he sounded muffled. Makes sense. The mics are picking up the voice mostly from the throat where the sound originates and is the loudest and closest to the dual mic setup. Ears are above the throat and at the top of the airway, but the gums, teeth, and cheeks all serve as mufflers or sound dampeners, as well as functioning to direct the brunt of the sound forward and out the mouth.
A reader on the Concours site also stated he was told he sounded like Darth Vader. It's a sound similar to speaking through a paper towel tube! In a nutshell your mics pick up sound from the voice that sounds the same as when you listen to yourself talk while you have your fingers in your ears. More of a bass sound and a bit mufffled.
Boom mic setups like the Sena, Cardio, and Interphone use a short throw uni-directional mic pointed at the opening of the mouth. That's optimal for clarity and it also happens to be the closest sourse of true vocal reproduction, so the voice is crystal clear. It's not picking up the sound made from the area of the vocal chords. The dual mics you use do pick that up, and it's throaty and deep and muffled. The mouth is a speaker, the throat is the sound source.
Look at it this way - Would you stand behind or to the side of your hi-fi at home for optimal sound quality, or are your speakers aimed AT you?!
The military application of this 'new technology' does not include speakers, I guarantee you that. They are earbuds with a short wire coming off one side that reaches the corner of the mouth. You bend it to the mouth so that it picks up the true sound of the voice. You don't aim it at the throat.
Another reason I know that they don't use speakers in their helmets or earflaps of their helmets is this: You claim basically 98dB for voice and 97dB for music. You think you're gonna hear your squad or unit through the speakers when you're in a fire fight listening to machine guns and mortar fire, let alone tank canons???!!! They have dB levels of 125dB-150dB. I'd be in battle going, 'What? WHAT? WHAT??? PLEASE REPEAT CAUSE I CAN'T HEAR YOU!' At 98dB your system puts out max what normal hiway noise levels are. So there we are, trying to battle ambient noise through the helmet to hear conversations or listen to music at 80mph. The only way to hear anything with your system at your claimed 137-145mph is if I am sitting in a car while doing so.
What would be revolutionary woud be wireless earbuds (preferably fit adjustable - you can get molded earbuds at motorcycle dealerships if you want to shell out the clams, but they are a wired unit... so far) and a wireless uni-directional mic. you'd wear earbuds about the size of hearing aides and the mic would perhaps be the size of the metal cylinder on a pencil eraser, and velcroed to the chinbar optimally above or below the chin venting. THAT'S NEW TECH!!! Recharging would be easy by using a charge matt, or a 3-into-1 cord where the 3 would be micro pin connectors (smaller than 1/8") that hook onto the 'hearing aides' and wireless mic and connect them to a USB or micro USB port.
So, in the long run I still think it's a compromise in sound quality at the very least that your company offers with it's boomless setup. I've listened to your sound samples. Problem there is that it's not a video, so how do I know the user was actaully speaking or listening while wearing a helmet? Answer is I don't.
You can bet your ass that if you give a sample to WebBikeWorld that they are going to FIELD TEST THEM and not sit in a studio where surrounding noise can be controlled and determined by a sound engineer.
Sorry, not truly impressed. Also not impressed by lack of range at that price. Maybe I'd try one if it were about $75. I can probably wait a while and find them for that on ebay in a year or so. The concept of no boom is nice, but your current execution has major flaws.
I rest my case. To be fair though I have read a couple, and I do mean a couple, reviewers say that people had no complaint as to the quality of their voice through the unit. Acoustics can be a bitch inside a helmet.
I wish you'd post Andy's PM to you for the rest of us to see.
Also, we don't all ride Goldwings and sit behind the veritable 'cone of silence' that you do, but I suggest you do a true test and report back to us. Go out on the hiway and have your wife call you! Also, let us know how well the music sounds when you're doing 80mph, even if it is behind that giant bugscreen you call a windshield!
Above all, be safe and keep riding!
Well, I'm sorry to say that I've taken my units back to Maxxim Honda in Allen, TX - great group of guys to work with.
I have to say, that I probably have not given this a fair shake. But, there were additional issues not previously mentioned... I wear hearing aids. I only mention that because these units when that close to my ears caused my aids to squeal which in turn was fed to my wife through the intercom. The fact that she could hear it and it would bother her ( I don't like it when I squeal either... and hear it) was one big factor in my returning the units.
Other than that, here's a summary of my experience,
I believe that I must've had one defective module since when trying out one unit when connected to my iPhone4 and making a call to my wife (while just in the house), she said she couldn't understand me. I tried adjusting the speaker/mic a little and calling again... not much difference. Then, I tried swapping out the module and it was an instant improvement... except for the fact that she said it did sound like I had my head in a bowl (expected - I use a SYMax II modular) it was very clear and plenty loud. It was at this point that she was able to hear the squeal from my hearing aids. And with it being that close to the mics, that pretty much sealed the fate for the UClear with us.
And so, I returned it. But, I decided to leave this "good" unit on my helmet anyway while making an hour drive so I could try it out at highway speed. I tried making several phone calls by using voice control, it failed to recognize the caller I was trying to reach each time. One time I connected to the wrong caller and they answered... I tried to explain that I had mistakenly called them... they could not hear me well at all, gave up, and hung up. But, I have to say, I could hear them fine even at highway speed.
I want to make one more comment, each time I tried to make a call through voice command, I could hear very clearly my iPhone's response to the person it recognized that I was calling... SO, with that being said, I have to say that audio streaming is probably very good quality.
I wish I could offer more feedback on this unit for you guys. Because, no doubt it's a fair amount of money to put down for something that's new. I will also say this, the Maxxim Honda dealer that I returned my unit to, said that I was the first return and to date, they had sold more than 25 units in the last 30 days or so.
As for what AndyUClear said in the private email, it was just some helpful suggestions to try out in order to improve the performance. He was helpful and willing to go the extra mile to get me fixed up, even providing me with contact info. I understand you skepticism. But, until you actually try the unit out yourself, you ought to lighten up a bit.
I am not trying to be mean. I'm simply stating a fact when I say you are not an ideal tester. Number one, you wear hearing aides. Number two, you wear hearing aides. Number three, well I think you know.
Of course it made your hearing aides squeal! The mic is right there next to your ears. They may be short throw uni-directional mics, but you're never going to be able to put on a set with mmics next to your ears! You need a boom setup, or you need to lower the sensitivity on your hearing aides so they don't feedback with your mics. That is, if you can adjust them. If not then you're only option is the boom setup. From all reviews I think the Sena is best, and they do offer earbuds instead of speakers.
Lastly, I don't consider the reply of a person's name back to you from your phone as a good judge of sound quality. When I say 'Call John' on my phone and it replies, or when I have the GPS on, the instructions are always louder than actual voice conversation on the phone. Put a set of earbuds on and try that at home and then liisten to the difference in the call quality versus the phone's automated responses.
In general, your review is for worthless. Be real. I'll lighten up when I hear someone give a decent review. That just ain't gonna happen though.
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