Just launched on Indiegogo, SmrtGrips guide you to your destination without you needing to fuss with your smartphone.
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Smartphone mapping apps are a huge help when navigating a city, and bikes are a great way to get where you need to go. Put the two together, though, and you could be asking for trouble. It's just not easy or safe to look at your smartphone for directions while balancing on two wheels and trying to avoid hazards. Plus, in daylight, the glare on your phone's screen makes it even harder to see what it's telling you.
Enter SmrtGrips, a set of handlebar grips now raising funds on Indiegogo. They tell you where you need to go through haptic feedback (aka buzzing).
Simply put the grips on your handlebars, launch the accompanying app to set up the notifications you want and enter your destination in your favorite mapping app. Then, put your phone away and the grips will guide you to the selected address. The right one vibrates when you need to turn right, the left one when you need to go left. The vibrations build in intensity as you near your turn.
You can also set the grips to deliver customized notifications regarding road construction and other hazards you might encounter.
In addition to helping you get where you need to go, SmrtGrips will help you find your bike if you forget where you put it. As long as you're in Bluetooth range from where you left it (less than 330 feet), just activate the bike finder utility in the app and you'll be guided to your bike's location.
Should your bike get stolen, the app works with a crowdsourced solution to find it. Whenever someone else using the SmrtGrips app comes in range of your bike, you'll get a notification that tells you where it is. You can also make the grips on your bike ring through the app for help finding it in a crowd.
The grips, which are waterproof, recharge via USB and are expected to hold their charge for three months. They work with both Android and iOS phones.
Right now, there are still plenty of early-bird SmrtGrips left, so you can snag a pair for $59 (about £39, AU$72). After they're gone, the price climbs to $64 and then $69 -- both bargains off the expected retail price of $119 (about £78, AU$146). Shipping costs $10 for the US, $20 for Canada and $25 (about £17, AU$30) for other destinations. The campaign is seeking to raise $50,000 and ends March 12. Devices are expected to begin shipping in August.
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