As a cyclist, you often don’t (safely) have the luxury of turn by turn directions at a glance. While there are GPS mounts available for bicycles, they’re often clunky and aren’t the best for ensuring the safety of your phone. That’s why two friends from London, England are getting ready to ship out units of BeeLine. Beeline is a cyclist navigation device engineered to fit right on the handlebars of a bike, but rather than overwhelming the rider with information, simply displays an arrow that indicates the general direction in which the rider needs to go.
The underlying concept of the device, presumably more appropriate and enjoyable for cyclists, is “fuzzy” navigation. Rather than displaying precise turn by turn directions, which can be difficult (and dangerous) to follow in urban areas, BeeLine steers the user in the general direction they should be going while also providing the distance they can expect to travel in that direction.
Although the device requires Bluetooth connectivity, BeeLine doesn’t use additional cellular data. Instead it simply connects to the rider’s smartphone and pulls the GPS data already stored in the companion app from the time they entered the destination and retrieved the directions. The interface has multiple unit views so that riders can also see speed and exact distances (traveled and remaining) as well as the local time.
Using an “e-Ink” display, the 400mAh battery is rated to last through a month’s worth of riding after full charged via USB. The unit is also designed for varying weather conditions and offers a light to assist in the visual department during evening rides.
A few challenges were mentioned by the company, including durability and proper functionality in urban areas where there are high levels of magnetic interference. The biggest obstacle, however, will be user re-calibration to imprecise directions that may lead a cyclist into dead ends and one way streets. As the device cannot be programmed to track and direct around such traffic nuances (it’s more compass than it is comprehensive navigation) it is ultimately up to the rider to ensure they’re always paying attention to what actual route can get the distance remaining on their BeeLine down to zero.
At the moment the Beeline is available for pre-order through the company’s website. The estimated sale price is £69.99 / $99.99 however pre-orders are going for only £49.99. According to their latest update, orders are estimated to ship in September 2016. On Kickstarter, Beeline raised £150,185 of their £60,000 goal from 3,038 backers and also raised over £500,000 in equity crowdfunding through Seedrs.
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