Since the advent of sat nav, even on bikes, getting anywhere efficiently is no longer an issue. The problem is we've lost our ability to enjoy the journey, and remember it. This is where the BeeLine bike compass spins up to change everything.
At it's simplest the BeeLine is a circular display with an arrow that points a cyclist where to head. This allows the rider to choose their route and when to turn. The idea is to make it feel more fun, explorative and to make the rider more aware of their route. This will probably mean remembering it better and learning new areas, rather than just efficiently passing through using sat nav.
We took some time to play with a pre-production model ahead of its launch on Kickstarter.
Is BeeLine going to change the way we cycle?
Designed for minimalism
When cycling, taking your attention off the road can be fatal. But stopping to check directions is also suicidal-level aggravating. So having an arrow to glance at that delivers directions instantly seems like a perfect solution.
These photos are mainly of a prototype unit so bare in mind the final version will be more premium.
The screen is large, clear and displays an arrow alone or an arrow plus distance to destination. Simple. There will also be a screen with the time and one with distance, speed and timer which also features a dot on the outer edge to continue showing direction.
The BeeLine unit is physically minimal with a simple stretching band connecting the case. This can be stretched around any handlebars and the case, with curved rear, sits comfortably to hold the unit in place. This means moving it between any bike, or taking it inside when the bike is locked up, is super simple.
Hardware is future proof
The BeeLine, when finished, will feature the same low-power LCD screen found in the Pebble smartwatch. That means a clear display that uses barely any power.
In fact the BeeLine connects via Bluetooth LE and has a 400mAh battery that is capable of 40 hours right now. But this should be even more once the device actually launches. So even if you ride an hour a day you're still going to get a good month on a charge.
The BeeLine features a magnetometer and accelerometer and a gyroscope. The combination of these things means accurate waypoint navigation even when interference occurs.
Since the BeeLine is effectively a smartwatch on your bike it's future-ready. Software updates are all that's needed to add in updates, open the SDK, partner with the likes of Strava and more.
It's liberating on a ride
When we first set off, testing the BeeLine in central London, we were met with a one-way road. We thought this would be annoying, wasting time. Then the heart of BeeLine was could be felt, it ended up only adding seconds to the journey and we learned a new bit of town. It made us more alert to our surroundings, rather than blindly following directions.
Having the choice of when to turn is liberating. We looked down one junction and saw a taxi blocking the traffic, so carried on to the next turn, confident the arrow would keep us locked onto our end goal.
BeeLine is out next year and it's affordable. It makes cycling fun and helps you get around too. We love the idea and predict the final model will be really well made.
The Kickstarter for the BeeLine has just begun. But the goal is to have the final model shipped by August 2016.
The initial price will be £30 for those in early with a Kickstarter standard of about £40. Retail will be more like £50 or £60.