The Internet of Things comes in all shapes and sizes in 2015, and whereas some have dubious merit, occasionally you hit something so cleverly simple yet useful you just go wow.
Meet smrtGRiPS, billed as the “world’s first connected bike grips.”
The initial reaction maybe one of doubt, as upfront the obvious question is why in the world do you need connected smart bike grips, but dig below the surface and you find a product that is quite remarkable in both its usefulness and simplicity.
The grips, which can be fitted to most bikes, provide a number of features, including navigation alerts, bluetooth connectivity, haptic feedback, audio alarm and crowd-sourced bike tracking.
Eyes-Free Navigation/ Alerts
It’s hard enough trying to avoid being hit by a car when you’re cycling on a city street, and if you don’t know where you’re going, trying to follow directions on a phone adds an unwanted level of distraction. smrtGRiPS connects with a mapping application on your smartphone and provides turn-by-turn eyes-free directions by vibration; your left grip vibrates, you turn left, right grip vibrates you turn tight.
Currently the grip only supports Google Maps and smrtGRiPS Connect Navigation (enabled by Telenav’s Scout SDK,) but support for other mapping solutions is being developed.
As well as giving you directions, smrtGRiPS also gives you alerts as well. In a different pattern of haptic feedback, the grips can alert you to traffic holdups and hazards, and can also be programmed to emit a loud sound (said to be audible over traffic) when it really needs you to get the message.
If you’re worried about your health, you can also set up haptic alerts that work with Google Fit and Apple Healthkit.
Bike Finder/ Tracker
If you’ve ever been in communities with high bike ridership you’ll know how vast bike parking facilities can be, and likewise how difficult it can be to find your bike in one.
The bike-finder feature of the smrtGRiPS app is exactly as it sounds: press a button and your bike will emit a sound so you can find it in the crowd.
The tracking feature uses a mesh network of other smrtGRiPS users to find your bike if it’s misplaced or stolen. When any other smrtGRiPS users come within 300 feet of your bike, the network notes its location at that point in time.
The only weakness with the tracking aspect is that it relies on other users being connected to the network versus GPS, but if smrtGRiPS takes off it would have adequate numbers to make the mesh network work.
Due to smrtGRiPS’ ability to network with other users of the system, you’re can also enable a separation alert if you’re riding in a group, which will warn you or others when you become separated.
Upfront it may not sound like an interesting feature, but the demonstration case does make sense; if you’re riding with children and one drops behind or has an accident, the system will immediately alert you.
smrtGRiPS come in an aluminium casing, provides a bluetooth range of 300 feet, is waterproof to 10 meters (32 feet), and has a rechargeable battery (3.7v/700mAh) which is good for three months per charge if you’re riding two hours a day, every day.
There’s no need for manual updates with the Bluetooth Smart SoC (System on a Chip) component being OTA-DFU (Over-the-air Device Firmware Upgrade) enabled.
smrtGRiPS is compatible with iPhones from iPhone 4s and up, iPad 3rd generation and up, and Android devices starting at KitKat 4.4.