A simple compass with your destination programmed via an app: Does this sound like something Kickstarter enthusiasts would get excited about? Apparently yes, and so much so that two different UK Kickstarter campaigns are asking for support to develop just that.
London is a cycling city with storied streets and winding roads. It’s ingrained in the local culture, as is the spirit of a fluid path to your destination. That’s the message both companies have put out with their campaigns. They also have to contend with grey, clouding weather.
Haize, all around
Haize was born out of frustration with Google Maps, which was less helpful if you deviated off the predetermined course Maps gave you.
“So we decided to try something more playful,” co-creator Jabier Soto Morras tells Geektime. “We think of it as Active Navigation, where you need to keep your attention on the road, and make some of the decisions, instead of depending solely on the instructions on when to turn.”
Haize is the product of the 11-person company Onomo and the brainchild of Jeff Gough (UK), Hannes Jakobsen (Germany) and Javier Soto Morras (Spain). Gough and Morras met through an innovative design and engineering course at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College.
The device has two settings: “Compass” simply points you in the direction you want to go and lets you choose the route, whereas “Turn-by-turn” will look for the fastest way to get there. They played with several prototypes to make sure that the compass wouldn’t fly off the handle, and despite the limited utility of fumbling with Google Maps, they are utilizing its API for Haize.
The other advantage here is its power efficiency. Phone mounts force you to drain your battery to have it on constantly. And for rainy days in not-so-sunny London, they say you should just forget about it. Haize focuses on one process with minimal display and efficient power use. Morras also argues it beats newer innovations.
“Smartwatches may be useful for this in the future, but if you cycle a couple of hours a day, the battery again will drop heavily. And many of them don’t have a compass function,” he explains.
He assured us that the reason urban cyclists were the focus was because of a lack of options while off-road bikers already had a few possibilities open to them. In the same vein though, they’ve received a number of inquiries from hikers who’ve seemed to determine where the next iteration of HAIZE will go. With that sort of interest, they’re considering a wrist strap for hikers, which pretty much leads it down the path to becoming a watch and away from their simple first design. The team is planning to unleash its API for anyone who might be able to build on the technology.
“We didn’t want a Swiss knife approach, but something easy to use, stylish, and functional to perform just one function well.”
Making a BeeLine for the street
“Having been for rides at lunch we’d often get lost, so one day we thought we’d just strap a compass to our bikes, and the rest is history,” Mark Jenner, one of BeeLine’s co-creators, says to Geektime.
Jenner and co-creator Tom Putnam were born and bred in the UK, meeting each other through work and commuting the same way: by bike of course. They immediately rejected the idea that voice-over directions are helpful. If anything, they’re annoying.
“BeeLine simply points you in the general direction to your destination and tells you the distance to go – no instructions and designed to make riding fun again,” Jenner mentioned. “For the occasions where you have to go via a specific point, e.g. a bridge over a river, we’ve built in the option to add intermediate way points to your journey to ensure you never get stuck.”
The device uses stretch silicone to keep it attached, making it adjustable for pretty much any ride, and is similarly rain resistant for dreary London weather. They offer a simple navigation mode as well as a route-specifying function that includes a specific landmark in the route the compass offers: a local bridge for example.
They aimed to solve a common issue for London bike riders more than ones people might face bringing their wheels into the mountains. Their goal was a simple device with no crazy, excessive features – a simple “navigation device to put the cycling masses back in control of their journey.”
“If there are mountain bikers, or off road bikers who also face similar problems BeeLine has no limits, so they’re welcome to get involved!” Jenner exclaimed.
Side by side
Side by side, here’s where they match: charged by micro USB; GPS and water-resistant; apps for iOS and Android; both have patents pending; both offer engravings for a fee.
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BeeLine has reached its goal, but Haize is still only half way there. Haize is pricier (between £60-65 for early birds) but offers heartier material and will also deliver two months earlier than BeeLine (£30-39 for early birds, £49 for retail). BeeLine has more style options and cheaper Kickstarter packages. Both products have promise and similar specs and ultimately, both deserve to make it out of their Kickstarter phase to have a chance at the greater market.
When it came to the competition, both teams were pretty mute, with Haize and BeeLine chalking it up to “poor timing” and a “coincidence.”
Haize expects to deliver about 1,500 units by June 2016. There are 11 people on the squad and has been entirely self-funded until now. BeeLine hopes to deliver by August 2016 and has 10 members on its team. Both squads are based in London.