A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… It is a period of paper-based self-navigation. Cell phones are the size a spaghetti squash. GPS is a three-letter acronym (TLA) and not much more to the average human. Bicycles are inanimate objects that are neither smart nor social. Yes, it is 1993.
Fast-forward twenty years to the present. Self-navigation is now a digital and plugged-in endeavor conducted through a now coaster-sized cell phone. Your grandmother uses GPS. On her cell phone. Bicycles are both smart and social.
Honestly, it’s amazing how quickly technology changes. And how quickly it changes us. Take for example, The Hammerhead, a new bike navigation system that has an amazing array of cool properties. The Hammerhead is ultimately a bike navigation system, but it’s not just about GPS. To The Hammerhead, navigation means finding the right route based on the most up-to-date bike map data and making sure you don’t run into things along the way. Now that’s social (crowd-sourced data) and smart (does it’s darndest to keep you upright).
The system itself is a small portable device that mounts to your handlebars and looks like, yes that’s right, a hammerhead shark.
Oh that’s cool, but wait? Where’s the route part? There’s no screen on this thing!
Hold on to your socks, folks! The Hammerhead doesn’t need a screen. That’s because it projects the route that you are taking through LED lights that indicate where and when to turn. Turn-by-turn directions without needing to look at a screen? Sign me up!
To add to that, it also illuminates objects in your path, such as that pesky pothole in the road or that low-hanging tree branch. Not to mention, it also serves as a bike light for general visibility purposes, as well.
The data that The Hammerhead accesses to provide you with your route is crowd sourced to provide the most accurate and up-to-date route possible. Users can share routes and upload route data based on certain preferences through a cell phone app that is available for IOS and Android. But the nice thing about the cell phone component is that you don’t need to have your phone out to use The Hammerhead. It can be stowed away safely in your pocket.
The Hammerhead also works with major bike sharing companies such as Bixi and B-Cycle in big cities to help you navigate when you are on a rental bike, as well.
Alright, so there’s a lot about The Hammerhead that sounds pretty darn cool. The product just got funded through Dragon Innovation, so while you can’t exactly get your hands on one right now, you can pre-order one for just $85.00.
But I haven’t actually tried one out for myself yet, so it’s tough to really say how awesome it really is.
There are a few things about The Hammerhead that I’m interested to see play out. For example, if the data is crowd-sourced, does it suck in locations where there isn’t much of a crowd providing data? It’s unclear to me what their underlying map platform is – Google, Open Street Map? How much of a learning curve is there with the LED-based navigation system?
Overall, it looks like a pretty great idea, and I’d love to hear if anyone backed this product and their thoughts on it.