A cyclists’ best friend – The compass-style Velo 2 sat nav
London-based studio Beeline has created a compact “compass” for cyclists, which learns from users to point them in the right direction.
Cycling is a great and eco-friendly mode of transport, especially in cities. But unfortunately, hard-to-navigate routes and busy roads make it seem like an unsafe option for city dwellers. Beeline wants to solve these problems with a gadget the size of a wristwatch, which is currently raising funding for its second generation.
The device is called Velo 2, and it is an upgrade from the company’s initial Velo product, which Beeline released in 2017. The new-generation cycling computer is lighter and slimmer but it also comes with a larger battery, improved water and shock resistance, and a bigger, cleaner interface.
Via a companion app (available on iOS and Android), Velo 2 offers what it calls “Beeline Smart Routing” blending the best available mapping and road-use data with insights from cyclists who have ridden those roads before. All the user needs to do is type their destination, and they’ll be offered three routes to get there: a Quiet route to destination, which avoids overly busy roads; a Fast route that simply takes the fastest route; or a Balanced route, which merges the two for a mixture of quiet and fast roads.
When choosing between routes, the Velo 2 needs to be paired with an internet-connected smartphone. However, once the rider gets going, the phone doesn’t require a data connection – just a GPS signal.
After the device has been paired, each route shows users which parts of the route have been rated positively by other riders, and those which have been poorly rated. That way, cyclists know when they can relax and enjoy the ride, and when to prepare for any trickier sections.
Velo on the go
A navigation system for cyclists should prioritise safety, which is why the Velo 2 interface is incredibly simple despite the device being packed full of clever features. Users of the original Velo will recall its digital compass display that only showed which direction the cyclist needed to go in order to reach their destination. It’s still possible to opt for this free-wheeling Compass Mode, or users can switch to the more traditional Route Mode, which is still incredibly simple.
This option combines an easy-to-read junction indicator and the distance until action is required by the cyclist. The entire interface is anchored by a direction arrow, which traces the circumference to indicate a general direction to destination. Alternatively, users can choose Route Mode, which allows them the option of a quiet route, a fast route, or a mixture of the two.
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Surrounding the interface, the new device functions as a four-way button: users press on the top or bottom of the screen to change modes, and to the left and right of the device to submit road ratings. This in turn has allowed the device’s user interface to grow – it is 63 per cent larger than the original Velo’s screen. Cyclists can also access other data such as current speed, distance travelled, and an estimated time of arrival.
The Velo 2 has impressive stats to match. The device itself is shock- and water-resistant, and attaches to a stem-mounted bracket via a hand twist. It contains an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer though, which it uses to gauge movement to show accurate information. According to Beeline, on a full USB charge of its 350-mAh lithium battery, the Velo 2 will run for up to 20 hours.
Although, the feature the company is most excited about is its cloud-connected technology, which, paired with user feedback captured during use, promises the best routes and therefore the most up-to-date satellite navigation system for cyclists.
“Velo 2 is a smart device, connected to your phone and to the cloud,” says Beeline. “This means it can keep getting better through software updates, and we’re committed to doing just that.”
“Since we launched our first product back in 2017, we’ve released 10 major feature updates based on the feedback we’ve heard from our community. And we’re only just getting started!”
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