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Heads-Up Displays Coming To Paintball Goggles
Recon Instruments has teamed up with the ever-popular Empire Paintball (the masterminds behind the Empire Helix Lens Mask to create the first fully-fledged pair of smart paintball goggles. The Empire EVS Recon features a HUD display that will transform the way matches are played, how players interact with their teams and even how arenas are structured.
Loaded with features
As futuristic as the helmet might seem, it actually runs on a fairly simple Android operating system. This is paired with directional controls in the form of an armband used to scroll through information on the HUD to zoom and navigate. The heads-up display will give players unprecedented amounts of live data as they battle, including ammunition counts, maps and even the location of teammates.
A geo tracker detects the player’s head movement and rotates navigation accordingly. Points of interest can be tagged on the map, too, and there’s plenty of scope for paintball arenas to add new features with the HUD in mind. Intriguingly, the goggles also pair with other devices like GoPros, which can be attached to the barrel of your paintball gun. That would (theoretically) allow you to peer around corners, giving players an advantage over their competitors, which might prove controversial.
Generally speaking, though, the goggles represent a deeper and more tactical experience designed to enhance a match rather than undermine it. They’re a giant leap forward in terms of paintball technology, but their refreshingly scaled-back interface and easy-to-use directional armband mean that they’re accessible, too.
The HUD is impressive enough, but there’s some heavy-duty technology operating just beneath the surface. An impressive nine individual axis sensors assist with geolocation and ensure that you’ll be correctly oriented on the inbuilt map. The goggles also have Wi-Fi, and there’s Bluetooth to connect them to a GoPro or to link up with other players.
Of course, paintballers won’t have to worry about the inner workings of this gear mid-match, when their attention will be focused purely on the HUD display. It’s situated in the bottom right quadrant, and navigation is intuitive. Taking to the field with so much technology on your side is certainly empowering and it transforms the way you think, giving you access to tactical insight on the move.
Empire Paintball is one of the most respected manufacturers of paintball gear in the world, so it’s no surprise that the new Empire Recon EVs come with a range of protections. Much like the classic Empire EVS Thermal Mask, there is a UVB and UVA protective coating on the lenses, along with anti-fog technology.
These additions are important not just now but for the future. If technology like HUDs is going to play a larger part in paintball matches, it's going to have to be robust. A typical match involves plenty of knocks and scrapes, and although it isn’t a contact sport, paintball is extremely physical and puts a strain on your gear. Wearable technologies must keep up, and the Recon EVS is a promising start.
Given the near legendary status of the Empire Paintball brand, this gear has huge potential to reshape how paintball matches will be played in the future. Many have suggested that the goggles (especially their ability to tag the location of teammates à la Call of Duty or Halo) fuse paintball with video gaming and might even encourage more people into the sport.
The option to tag your team members on the map, as well as special points of interest, opens up a range of possibilities. Arenas will be able to tailor matches to the HUDs, especially in large-scale scenario matches that involve big teams and often sprawling objectives. Obstacle-laden woodsball games will be transformed by the live map and navigation, and speedball will gain a new, tactical angle.
Innovations like these place paintball at the cutting edge of technology, advanced well beyond most other sports. If paintball is to continue its growth, it must adapt. The sport has always been quick to incorporate new technologies and equipment such as the HK Army Camera Mount already allows players to use devices, but this heads-up display offers a whole new world of opportunity.
The Empire Recon EVS might be the first pair of goggles to feature a HUD, but it almost certainly won’t be the last. Given the excitement and interest around these goggles and how they are already changing the way matches are played, this fusion of technology and paintball looks like the wave of the future.