Hammerhead Navigation - first look

Bar-mounted guide offers turn-by-turn navigation for cyclists

There will soon be a new player in the cycling app and navigation market. A trio of New York-based developers are putting the finishing touches on what they hope will be a simple, yet feature-rich turn-by-turn navigation tool for cyclists.

Hammerhead Navigation is named after its unusually shaped display. The ‘T’ shaped unit can be attached to the stem or handlebar using the same quarter-turn interface used to mount Garmin cycling computers. The unusual design is a byproduct of the navigation display, which is composed of three rows of LED lights. Turns, distances and relative speeds are all conveyed through light patterns, rather than the typical graphic interface. 

LEDs are used to for turn-by-turn navigation

“It shows you everything you need to know through your peripheral vision. It’s simple. It’s elegant. It just works,” explains company founder Piet Morgan in Hammerhead’s promotional video.

How it works

The bar-mounted unit receives its GPS data from an app installed on the rider’s smartphone. The Hammerhead app comes in versions for both Andriod and iOS and mines GPS data from Google and MapQuest, as well as crowd-sourced routes that users can upload much like Strava and Map My Ride. The Hammerhead app supports both GPX and TCX files.

The Hammerhead display unit works in conjunction with the rider's smartphone

Features

Hammerhead touts the app's ability to provide the user real-time information, rather than waiting to see how you did until you get home. Through the LED lights and the app installed on one’s smartphone, Hammerhead offers riders the real-time information expected from a navigation gadget, including upcoming turns, distance to the next turn, distance to final the destination, distance to the top of a climb, road hazards, arrival notifications and when a U-turn is needed.

Hammerhead can also can provide Strava addicts with segment starts and segment ends and segment speed compared to goal speed. It also has a built in compass for off-road exploration and a LED headlight for commuting.

Riders who are chronically late to group rides—along with their fed-up friends—may enjoy the fact that Hammerhead can guide riders to meet up with other Hammerhead users who already on the road.

Specifics

The company claims Hammerhead is safer and more efficient than simply relying on one’s smartphone for navigation. Safer because the user does not need to devote all their attention to the display to get the information they need. More efficient because the app uses very little power and the smartphone can remain tucked neatly in the rider’s jersey pocket with the screen turned off.

The claimed battery life for the display unit is 20 hours; it recharges via a micro USB port. However, its long battery life is constrained by its reliance on the rider’s smartphone. Run times will vary depending on the particular smartphone, though company estimates suggest run times of approximately five hours.

Given the relatively short run times, we don’t expect Hammerhead will inspire Garmin users to trade in their Edge 810 or Edge 510. Though Hammerhead’s low cost and simple interface may make it appealing to riders looking for a more affordable navigation tool. The growing number of bike share programs across the U.S. are fertile ground for an easy to use navigation tool for tourists and casual cyclists. Experienced cyclists eager to explore new routes could also benefit from its turn-by-turn navigation.

Hammerhead is not yet available. The company is currently attempting to raise funds for production through the crowdfunding site Dragon Innovation. The price for the Hammerhead through the crowdfunding campaign starts at US$68. Hammerhead expects to begin shipping by April 2014.

Video: Hammerhead Navigation

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