The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but that’s not how a cyclist decides how to get to their destination (or a driver or even a pilot, if you think about it).
The best cycle route is often the one with fewest cars, and for some cyclists, it’s the route with that really great hill to climb. Obscurity and quiet, winding roads are the goal, but identifying such places can be a challenge.
A new device called Hammerhead wants to help. The device attaches to your handlebars and LED lights indicate when to turn right or left, possibly when to exit a roundabout or make a U-turn. You’ll choose from routes in Hammerheads database — but riders who find a good route can recommend it to other Hammerhead users, so the routes provided should get “smarter” over time.
The device brings an important application of technology to cycling. If you’ve ridden on a bike lately, you might realize that we have more information than ever, regarding routes and traffic — but accessing this information mid-ride, perhaps pulling out your smartphone — is foolish at best, when bikers on roads are already incredibly vulnerable.
Hammerhead is currently crowdfunding on Dragon Innovation, a site similar to Kickstarter but that takes a more hands-on approach with helping hardware startups get their products out the door. The reason for crowdfunding, founder Piet Morgan says, is first to raise money for manufacturing (the product is already designed, and manufacturers are identified), and second, to begin building the community that will make Hammerhead a big success.
The supporters who fund Hammerhead will be its first beta users and their feedback will help shape the product (for example, the company doesn’t plan on using audio or a vibration to indicate directions, but could be added later).
Morgan says bike share programs are one trend that makes Hammerhead increasingly relevant. Unlike seasoned bikers who own their own gear, these occasional riders might have less experience in finding the best routes.
The device will cost $75 if purchased in the crowdfunding stage, which has 25 days left. The location data used to tell a rider when to turn is pulled from your smartphone — so you’ll have to have that with you on a ride. Because of the bluetooth capabilities Hammerhead uses it will only be compatible with an iPhone 4S or newer, and the newer versions of Android phones (which all have fairly accurate GPS, anyway). Hammerhead will ship at the end of April.