It's becoming more and more common for cyclists to find their way around using navigation apps on bike-mounted smartphones ... but it's not a perfect setup. For one thing, those phones get shaken around a lot. Additionally, it's risky for cyclists to keep glancing down at the screen, plus keeping that screen constantly awake uses up a lot of battery life. The Hammerhead offers an alternative. It's a water- and shock-proof bar-mounted device that relays simple navigational cues via easy-to-see LEDs.
To use the Hammerhead, riders start by using the accompanying iOS or Android app to select their destination – at this point, they also indicate their riding preferences. The app will respond with a suggested route, although riders can also manually program in a route of their own choice.
"The routes are recommended based on existing bicycle paths in databases such as Google Maps and OpenCycleMap," Hammerhead Navigation co-founder Laurence Wattrus explained to us. "As users grow we can add routes of friends or the community, making much richer recommendations and allowing the best local rides to be ranked for bikers."
The phone then gets safely tucked away in a backpack or pocket, although it still communicates with the Hammerhead via Bluetooth Smart. As the ride commences, an array of LEDs on the device light up sequentially to the let the user know when and where to turn left or right. It also lets them know things like how soon a turn is coming up, and how far they are into the trip. According to the designers, the LEDs are visible in the rider's peripheral vision, day or night, so there's no need to look right down at the device.
Additional features include a compass setting, an integrated headlight, and the ability to compete against other cyclists' best times on given rides.
The integrated lithium-polymer battery should provide about 20 hours of use per charge.
Wattrus and the rest of the team are now in the process of raising production funds for the Hammerhead, on new crowd-funding site Dragon Innovation. A pledge of US$68 will get you a device of your own, when and if they're ready to go. The estimated retail price is "over 100 dollars."