If you don’t know where you’re going on a bike, navigating can be difficult. Paper maps are cumbersome. And working off a smartphone or a Garmin-type device can have its drawbacks. Sunlight may obscure the screen and you might not be able to hear voice directions.
SmrtGRiPS is something different. Rather than relying on your ability to hear or see, it uses the sense of touch to direct you. When you approach a left or right turn, the corresponding handle will vibrate telling which way to go, so there’s no need to take your eyes off the road.
The grips are linked to a smartphone app, which you set up beforehand. You install the device by taking off the normal rubber grips and placing the two six-inch canisters inside. The technology comes from German-Canadian company called Boreal Bikes, which has been developing the idea for the last year. See its Indiegogo pitch here:
Apart from directing you, co-founder Louis Huard points to three other useful features. First, you can use to the app to locate your bike in case you can’t find it. Hit a panic button on your phone and the grips will emit a loud-pitched squeal.
Second, SmrtGRiPS is a designed as a cooperative network. If your bike gets stolen and another user comes within a few feet of it, their phone will buzz too (and hopefully they’ll let you know). And three, the grips can be used to keep groups of cyclists together. If someone is getting left behind, both that person and the person who’s looking after them will be notified.
Huard says a single charge is enough for an impressive three months of commuting for two hours a day. You can detach the grips when you lock up, though it seems a bit fiddly (unfortunately they’re quite conspicuous, so leaving them in is a theft risk).
They cost $59 and ship in late July, he says. Take a look here.