Kevin Crowell loved riding with a GPS unit and, often, lights and an action cam. But he wondered why the three things couldn't be one thing. "If we can make a cell phone that does all this, why can't we make a cycling computer like this?" Crowell said. Now, Crowell's company Refactor has a prototype RF-1 unit on Kickstarter, with the initial design having been audited by Hardware Studio.
Refactor RF-1 GPS proposed features
- Android 7.0 software with 3in color LCD touchscreen
- OpenStreet GPS maps
- 1080p 30fps HD camera
- Dual 60-lumen LEDs
- 12hr battery life
- ANT+ and BTLE
- 1.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM
From programming cyclist to CEO
After working as a programmer for 19 years, Crowell set off on his own to build the next great cycling computer. What started as a 'why not?' project led to travel and conversations with manufacturers around the world.
"I didn’t honestly understand at the time quite how ambitious the project was going to be," Crowell said. "I have a better appreciation now, and I feel good about the partners we have established."
Aside from the basic integration of lights, video and mapping, Crowell was inspired to create a mobile-phone-like experience of easy usability. Years ago, Crowell had purchased an Xperia Active, an early Sony phone with ANT+ that seemed promising, but that "didn't quite hit the mark," he said.
With his list of specs in mind, Crowell began contacting vendors for hardware and software. "It’s easy to find people who say they can do things online, but it’s hard to find people you can trust," he said.
Speaking of trust, Refactor is on Kickstarter now looking for crowdfunding. In part to help with the project and in part to help with consumer trust, Crowell put Refactor through Hardware Studio, a company that vets potential Kickstart projects for viability. "We are aware of the difficulty of pulling something like this off. So it’s nice to have them say, yes, you can pull this off," he said.
There are similarities to the still-developing Hammerhead Karoo cycling GPS, which is also based on phone technology. The Karoo is shipping, but there are many features in the still-to-come category.
Between a first and a second working prototype
Crowell says much of the functionality in the RF-1 is working now.
"Most of it is there," he said. "Simple big things like the GPS is working, the ANT+ working, the screen working with gloves on. We have posted videos of that type of stuff working. Part of the deal of being on Hardware Studio is that you have to have a working prototype."
Before going into production, Refactor will have to have a second working prototype with more features.
Looking for $250,000 on Kickstarter, by June 24
Refactor is asking for backers on Kickstarter, with a goal of raising $250,000 by June 24. Refactor is asking between $289 and $429, with estimated delivery times ranging between March and April 2019 if the project is funded.
You can find out more and watch videos of what is working on Refactor's Kickstarter page.