Cycling is being encouraged. Initiatives like the Cycle to Work scheme and the Coke Zero Bikes have led to more and more of us taking to two wheels every working day. This year saw the greatest number of commuting cyclists in Dublin at 11,000 since records began twenty years ago. From fitness to saving on bus fares or petrol there are plenty of compelling reasons for the young and not so young to get pedaling.
I’ve cycled to work sporadically over the last few years, and while I always feel better having done it, you need your wits about you at rush hour. Newtonards based See.Sense have created a smart, connected bike-light that could make our commuting trips or leisurely treks a little safer by adding some very smart tech like crash-alerts and theft detection to traditional cycling kit.
The See.Sense Icon light kit consists of a pair of front and rear bike lights. In the box there are is an ICON front light and mount, a rear light with mount, a shield for the front light, two micro USB cables and three mounting straps. The lights can operate as they are but you can, and should, unlock the extra features by downloading an iOS or Android app.
Once I’d downloaded the app I needed to enable Bluetooth on my iPhone and launch the See.Sense app. The app identified the lights and there’s a pair option on the app to control two lights easily. The app also clearly displays the battery charge in the lights and will remind you when your lights need charging. The included micro-USB cable is attached to the back of the light and you can plug that in to a USB charger plug, and a full charge will give you an impressive 15 hours of operation.
Attaching them to my bike was easy with the included mounts and they felt sturdy and unlikely to wobble out of line. When powered up, the first thing you’ll notice is these front and rear lights are bright, the dual CREE LEDs lights produce 190 and 320 lumens respectively. Despite their impressive brightness, they’re slim at 65x55mm and weigh just over 60 grams. These weatherproof lights have been engineered to make sure you’re seen, even in daylight and provide 180° visibility.
Once charged, attached and paired to my phone, I was off and immediately the lights made their smartness known. These lights are full of sensors, so they know if you’re moving and start operating and they’ll shut down a few minutes after you come to a standstill. One of the remarkable features though, is that appear to know what sort of cycling you’re doing and behave differently depending on your environment.
The lights react when you approach a junction or roundabout by flashing brighter and faster and it behaves in a similar way when you brake. It will detect cars approaching, and will then increase the rate of flashing to ensure approaching drivers see you. It has awareness of daylight or night, meaning the lights adjust to give you the best chance of being seen, regardless of the time of day.
The latest version of the app also has a number of useful features. You can manually adjust the brightness level of the lights to get the maximum life out of the rechargeable battery and you can change the flashing pattern, choosing a simple always on, to a dramatic A&E setting that would be ideal for busy urban commuters. As well as keeping you a little safer, the lights can contribute, anonymously, to a big-data pool that the makers say they’ll use to help cities become smarter for commuters.
The app also offers allows you to access the smart Theft and Crash modes. With the theft mode you can dismount, pop in to the shop and be notified via your phone if someone tampers with your bike. It won’t stop someone stealing it, but it’s a clever additional feature for those unscheduled stops.