A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Â It is a period of paper-based self-navigation. Â Cell phones are the size a spaghetti squash. Â GPS is a three-letter acronym (TLA) and not much more to the average human. Â Bicycles are inanimate objects that are neither smart nor social. Â Yes, it is 1993.
Fast-forward twenty years to the present. Â Self-navigation is now a digital and plugged-in endeavor conducted through a now coaster-sized cell phone. Â Your grandmother uses GPS. Â On her cell phone. Â Bicycles are both smart and social.
Honestly, it’s amazing how quickly technology changes. Â And how quickly it changes us. Â Take for example, The Hammerhead, a new bike navigation system that has an amazing array of cool properties. Â The Hammerhead is ultimately a bike navigation system, but it’s not just about GPS. Â 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. Â 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? Â Where’s the route part? Â There’s no screen on this thing!
Hold on to your socks, folks! Â The Hammerhead doesn’t need a screen. Â That’s because it projects the route that you are taking through LED lights that indicate where and when to turn. Â Turn-by-turn directions without needing to look at a screen? Â 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. Â 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. Â Users can share routes and upload route data based on certain preferences through a cell phone app that is available for IOS and Android. Â But the nice thing about the cell phone component is that you don’t need to have your phone out to use The Hammerhead. Â 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. Â 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. Â For example, if the data is crowd-sourced, does it suck in locations where there isn’t much of a crowd providing data? Â It’s unclear to me what their underlying map platform is – Google, Open Street Map? Â 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.