Montréal, Québec, Canada is among the world’s top biking cities. Never mind that its winters can be grueling and its hills a supreme hassle, the city’s protected bike lanes and innovative mindset when it comes cycling has put it in the list of top cycling cities in the world.
So, it is no surprise that Montreal has also become an incubator for cycling technology. It gave us the Bixi bike-share concept (which went on to spawn popular bike-sharing programs in Toronto and New York), and now it’s given us SmartHalo.
Dreamed up by Cyclelabs, SmartHalo is designed to do everything we generally believe a bike can’t do: navigate the route, monitor its security and pamper the rider’s personal needs en route. The little apparatus, which sits atop the handlebars, tracks distance, calories, elevation, usage and security, all of which can be easily viewed on a phone. Once the rider disembarks, the bike goes into sleep mode, a security setting that tracks the status and the location (just in case you forget where you left your bike).
Best of all, the connection uses Bluetooth Low Energy, answering one of cycling “smart” technology’s biggest challenges: small batteries versus big ambitions. The gizmo also recharges within minutes, so the rider isn’t left sitting waiting.
And SmartHalo’s simple design -- says the company’s director of user experience, Gabriel Alberola -- is all part of the package.
“SmartHalo’s design philosophy has always been centered on minimalism and simplicity. Biking in cities is already a challenge so our product needed to be smart yet easy to use, without being another distraction,” Alberola said.
Unlike a number of similar innovations already on the market, SmartHalo easily attaches and becomes a permanent “smart” part of your bike. Once the route is keyed into the app, SmartHalo takes over, feeding directions to the rider from color-coded signals that can be seen en route. Printed maps and frustrating pull-overs to check directions become passé. The smart apparatus plots and directs the route from start to finish.
The apparatus is geared to mesh with any bike on the market, and the app is iOS and Android friendly. Not surprisingly, these Montreal entrepreneurs have also factored in climate change and winter weather by making the apparatus waterproof.
Last Tuesday, after months of planning, SmartHalo launched its Kickstarter campaign for an ambitious $50,000. Previous Kickstarter entrepreneurs have pointed out that the way to success is to aim low when it comes to a financial goal, and aim high when it comes to forethought, planning and turnaround. So, the outcome of this campaign is as much a testament to Cyclelabs’ deep research and thought as much as it is to the marketability of its concept.
On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the campaign launched, Cyclelabs met its goal of $50,000. And it was still climbing Wednesday morning. At 12 noon ET, it had already surpassed $60,000.
One reason for that success may be its introductory price of $79, a steal compared to similar smart cycling tools, which can reach $200 or more. The first 100 perks were gone within hours, but that hasn’t stopped the sale of double packages, which still go for about half the retail price.
For now, the Kickstarter campaign (which expires Sept. 24) is the most economical and quickest way to try out the new smart apparatus. The designers haven’t said when it will hit the market, but with momentum they have received this week, the designers already know that they are on to a very marketable concept.
Image creditss: SmartHalo
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.