SENA dialed into technology
Communication company continues to innovate
SENA Technologies is just beginning its third year in the powersports market, and already the company is making waves, becoming one of the top producers of rider communication devices.
SENA devices are distributed by some of the major distributors, including Parts Unlimited, Marshall, MTA and Custom Chrome, and they have been adopted by Victory and BRP.
“Through our OEM agreements and through our distribution, I have to say we are one of the probably most widely sold communication systems on the market today,” Roger Hanne, who works in inside channel development for SENA, told Powersports Business.
Though the company is new to the powersports industry, it has a 15-year history working with Bluetooth connectivity and computer servers. Its products can even be found in many cell phone towers across the U.S. But it wasn’t until 2007, when SENA’s owner became an avid motorcyclist, that the company jumped into this arena.
Hands on the handlebars
SENA introduced its first motorcycle product, the SMH10, in 2010. The Bluetooth headset and intercom allows for four-way conference intercom up to 980 yards. It works with cell phones, MP3 players and GPS units. But what made the SMH10 different from units already on the market was what the company calls a Jog Dial, which is a large wheel used to control the system.
“With the SMH10, by creating what we call the Jog Dial, we changed how users have to use the actual product itself. Instead of buttons, we now go to the dial, where literally bringing up a gloved hand up to the side to the dial, that’s all you have to do; you don’t have to sit there and push any buttons,” Hanne said.
With the patent-pending Jog Dial on the SMH10, SENA already showed the company’s commitment to safety. Developers felt that other devices using buttons kept riders’ hands off the handlebars too frequently.
“This is what differentiates SENA from everybody else because we don’t just think about a headset. We think about how or why a rider rides and what he’s riding and how can SENA improve that ride,” Hanne said.
Following the SMH10, SENA released the SMH5, which offers many of the same capabilities as its predecessor, but is designed specifically for a rider and passenger, rather than a group.
“What we found is a lot of individuals said, ‘You know what? I don’t need all that SMH10, and I don’t want to pay the price,’ so all right, we came up with what we call SENA’s little brother, the SMH5, so this is meant for rider-passenger. This is more for a day ride, versus in a group, touring, long distances,” Hanne explained.
Other products the company has introduced include the SR10 Bluetooth two-way radio adapter and the SM10 dual-stream Bluetooth stereo transmitter.
SENA and Bell Helmets recently worked together to create the Mag-9, a helmet designed to accommodate the SENA SMH10.
Attracting V-twin crowd
Though in-helmet Bluetooth communication systems were first desired by mostly metric riders, spurred by the BMW crowd, others are now growing interested in the new technology.
“For the longest time there was a real hesitation of using any kind of connectivity on a motorcycle. Well, not anymore,” Hanne said. “Today, I think users are finding that being able to connect with each other while on the road adds a certain level of safety that they didn’t have before, and, I think, an increased level of enjoyment that they didn’t have before. I think it makes it a much more pleasant environment, especially for passengers because now you’re able to have a reasonable conversation.”
V-twin riders are increasingly interested in Bluetooth systems, prompting SENA to create products like the SPH10H, a system designed to fit with half helmets. The company also developed custom cords for Harley-Davidson and Honda models, so users can use their on-board audio system wirelessly.
Going beyond the standard communication system is one of the qualities that makes SENA unique, Hanne said. Though it’s developed a number of new products in its first few years, the company has even more to unveil in the near future.
“Especially with new products that we’ll be introducing, that I think, is truly going to set SENA apart even greater than where we are today,” Hanne said, “so it’s going to be an exciting next three years.”