Bike interfaces

There is one display on the bike to discuss, some audio features, and a whole lot of things missing.


The bike display is a small screen near the front of the handlebars that displays a limited set of information to Jack as he’s riding.  It is seen used as a radar system.  The display is circular, with main content in the middle, a turquoise sweep, and a turquoise ring just inside the bezel. We never see Jack touch the screen, but we do see him work a small, unlabeled knob at the bottom left of the bike’s plates.  It is not obvious what this knob does, but Jack does fiddle with it.

While riding, the bike beeps loud enough for Jack to be able to listen to and understand changes in the screen’s status.  At slower speed and at a stop, the beeping is quieter, as if the bike adjusted the sound level to shout over the wind-noise at speed.  On screen, pulsing red dots representing targets.  After he stops, Jack removes his goggles to look at the screen, but we see him occasionally glance down at the screen while riding with goggles on.  It appears like the radar is legible in either case.

After most of the bike-related events in Oblivion, Jack gets the bike back when it has been ridden.  At one point we see an alternate display that shows large letters that says “Fuel Low”.  At that point the turquoise ring has only a sliver of thickness left.

There are several things that riders of modern motorcycles would expect to be included in a dashboard display, such as a speedometer and temperature gauge. But, we see neither an indication of speed nor some sense of whether the engine is getting too hot.  Similarly, we see no indication of running lights. Where are these things? How are they not needed?


Basically useable…

Yes, the bike’s display shows very basic information that Jack needs for short range exploration and riding.  Jack is able to tell by the loud beeps which direction he should be going, and whether he’s on the right track.  These tones appear to change based on distance to target (hot/cold), with the screen acting as the directional finder.  He only needs to glance down at the display to confirm what the audio feedback is telling him and get a map view of the terrain.

…But is it enough?

This bike would not be road legal today, as it has only the most basic information Jack needs to go exploring: Where to head, and how much fuel he has left. There’s a lot missing.

The most obvious missing piece is the distance to go.  The beacon shows up on orbital scans, so Vika should have an approximate location and distance to go off of.  Jack would then know how long it would take to get there, and whether he had enough fuel for the trip.

He’s also missing a good terrain view in front of him.  On a bike, he isn’t able to traverse just anywhere.  A map and terrain display would let him plan out a route that the bike could handle, instead of guessing and hoping he doesn’t run into a sheer cliff.

Given that Jack is exploring far away from civilization, medical help, the Bubbleship, or even some kind of storage area for first aid or food would be useful.  A bike like this should also have some sort of safety gear.  Jack appears to dislike things like helmets or bulky armor, so the bike should have some indication of built-in safety systems like a deployable, wrap-around airbag.

Given the presence of Scavs, the bike should also have some kind of anti-theft mechanism on it. A lock that only allows Jack to operate the bike, or automatic locking of the wheels would make it difficult for the Scavs to steal it and use the TET technology inside.  Instead, we see that the bike is stolen after Jack descends into the cave, leaving Jack stranded.

To improve the wayfinding, the TET, Vika, or Jack could plot a general course that is relatively safe, fuel efficient, and on the way to the target for the bike.  The bike could then use Jack’s already-present communications system to guide Jack along the route using purely auditory feedback and artificial surround sound (or real surround sound if the earbud is advanced enough).

Why Waste Jack?

Jack is probably expensive in time and material to create, and giving him some protection would save the TET resources.  Even if the TET didn’t care about its crews, it should care about valuable technology that can be used against it.

Aside from the safety factor, which is probably due to the TET’s underlying lack of care about individual Jacks, Jack’s bike is able to navigate him where he needs to go and get him back.  The bike’s radar works even at full speed to point Jack in the right direction thanks to noise-adjusted audio feedback.  Only the addition of some simple anti-theft devices would make the bike more effective for both Jack and the TET.

The bike is not a good example for real-world bikes of the future, but does help set Oblivion in a world where the “employer” doesn’t care about the “employee” beyond their basic ability to get the job done.

One thought on “Bike interfaces

  1. It may be worth noting that dirt bikes often don’t have a speedometer or running lights, depending on their application. Also since the bike is presented as electric (or some other future means of power), perhaps a temp gauge is superfluous.

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