The concept of a smart bike has been around for a few years, with smart tools ranging from a pedal that works as a basic fitness tracker to monitor distance travelled through to expensive e-bikes fitted with control screens and USB ports to help cyclists charge their phones as they ride. A Canadian startup has come up with a tool that sits somewhere in between: the SmartHalo.
The SmartHalo is a small circular device that can fit on the handlebars of any bike. It’s part fitness tracker, GPS navigator, and security system, working primarily through colour-coded signals. The device allows a cyclist to input their destination into an accompanying smartphone app, and will then track their movements and direct them to their location through signals on the device. It also becomes a nightlight once the sun goes down, can notify a cyclist of incoming calls on their phone and bad weather ahead, and has an internal motion sensor that sounds an alarm and notifies an owner when it detects ‘persistent meddling’.
Built by a team of cyclists in Montreal, the idea came to the group as they wanted to come up with a solution to the two biggest problems associated with biking in cities: navigation and security.
“Of course some bike GPS systems exist, but none were really adapted for urban commuting. They require to be removed after each ride, or will have a screen and a complicated interface. We wanted to create a minimalist technology that would allow riders to focus on what matters – the road. We also wanted to tackle the issue of theft in big cities, and that’s why we decided to integrate an alarm system,” explained Xavier Peich, a co-founder and business director at SmartHalo.
However, while it’s still better than a simple lock and chain combo bike security system, the SmartHalo won’t be able to do much if its motion sensor alarm fails to scare a thief away; the smartphone app will be unable to recognise a new location, will only be able to remind an owner of the last known location of the bike.
The coolest features of the SmartHalo device look to be the GPS and the data that it collects through the app. The app automatically begins tracking a host of fitness metrics like distance, time, elevation, and average speed as soon as the cyclist begins pedalling. A user can also set themselves a goal, whether it be distance, time, or calories burned on each ride, and have their progress shown on the device.
The device can be taken off the bike with the accompanying key and charged via USB, with the battery lasting up to 3 weeks. The team claims SmartHalo can withstand even the coldest Montreal winters, though the battery life may be affected in extreme cold.
With 22 days still to go on its Kickstarter campaign, the SmartHalo has already raised over CAD$237,000 – significantly more than its $67,000 goal – and distributors around the world have expressed interest in stocking the product.
SmartHalo will also be joining the Brinc.io accelerator in Hong Kong, which is devoted to connected hardware devices. The relocating to China will also help monitor the manufacturing process, with shipping is expected to begin around May next year.
Image: The SmartHalo team. Credit: Le Journal de Montréal