SmartHalo — making your bike smarter than a fifth grader
Here’s one device you could add to your bike to make your cycling safer, more fun and more efficient. SmartHalo is a ‘mount it’ and ‘leave it’ gadget for your bike that acts as a GPS, a headlamp, a phone call alert, and a security system.
This fist-sized gadget is made to be permanently mounted to your bike. It’s theft-proof, so leave it mounted. It’s rain, dirt and mud proof. A special key enables it to be removed should you need to bring it inside, like once every three weeks to recharge it.
Mounting the SmartHalo
The special mounting system for the SmartHalo positions it high enough to mount directly over the center post on your handlebars. It comes with a variety of spacers to fit any size standard handlebars.
Since I wanted to mount mine off-center, I was glad it came with the assortment of spacers. My handlebar tapers from center to end and l needed a larger spacer near the handle grip. No problem — the ones I needed were both included. Now I’ve got my Phone holder/Bluetooth speaker mounted on the left and my SmartHalo mounted on the right.
Downloading the SmartHalo app for either iOS or Android, you simply follow along with the instructions on the app for mounting. Actually, the installation instructions are the very best I’ve ever seen in an app…. with one main caveat. After you see the screen that tells you to tighten the screws, then on the next screen, it warns you to not over-tighten. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I did — cracking the lower mounting bracket before I flipped to that next screen. Despite the crack — it still seems solid and works fine.
Built-in burglar alarm
One of the beauties of not having to remove it is that each time you dismount, you don’t have to worry about someone lifting it off your bike. The other reason is that you can program it to sound a rather loud alarm any time someone tries to move your bike.
At first, I didn’t think this feature was working, but came to find out, the alarm automatically disengages if it senses my cellphone in near proximity. Now I can leave the alarm set all the time, knowing it will only alarm if I’m not nearby. Superb!
Fire up the app
Once you load the app, it will help you pair your phone with the SmartHalo. Now, you can input your destination — either by place or by address, A GPS map will appear, showing you the safest route to bike there.
I was really impressed here, with the route it showed me to my local Panera. Most GPS units take you onto a major thoroughfare a.s.a.p., but this one actually routed me through a little-known access road and through a parking lot as the actual fastest route to Panera. Kudos SmartHalo!!!
With the route ready, merely press Start and you can then put your phone in your pocket or bag. A string of lights on the SmartHalo will change as you get close to your next turn, and then flash, showing the direction at each intersection.
A string of green lights from 11 o clock to 1 o clock, would indicate to go straight, while a string of green lights from 2 o clock to 4 o clock would denote a turn to the right. Conversely, a string of red flashing lights from 5 o clock to 7 o clock would indicate you’d past your turn and you need to turn around.
Do pay attention to the map before you go however. The only problem I encountered was with a small traffic circle. The map made it clear which way to go, but if I had only relied on the flashing lights, I would have continued too far around the circle. That’s more a fault of GPS technology than SmartHalo. Consumer accessible GPS accuracy is limited to 30' maximum I believe, and this circle was probably only about 25 feet in diameter.
A visual speedometer can be displayed as well as progress along the exercise goals you set, once you enable “location aware” and fill out your profile.
If your phone has an incoming call, a light starts flashing in the center of the Halo, to alert you to the call.
Alternate GPS directions…in case you want to go off-road or just wander through the city, you can also have the Halo give you guidance without actually following plotted roads. The Halo will show you the Compass direction of your destination in yellow dots, no matter which way you turn, so it’s just a matter of heading in that direction more often than not, to reach your ultimate destination.
Safe at night
An additional feature of the SmartHalo is that it includes a bright headlamp, which can be operated in continuous mode or blinking mode. It even comes with an Auto-Off selector so your lights won’t burn all night long after you’ve parked.
For more capabilities and information, check out their website at https://www.smarthalo.bike/ or find them in your local Apple Store.
Disclosure: SmartHalo provided the unit for me to test in order to complete this review. Opinions, as always, are totally my own and we were not paid to complete this review.
Originally published at Doug Bardwell.