In the realm of interfaces, a screen isn’t always the answer. Increasingly, designers are experimenting with ambient UIs as way for devices to communicate with people in an unobtrusive, yet effective, way. The SmartHalo, a connected biking gadget, is one example of this theory in action.
Biking in the city is a full-on test of your ability to be hyperaware of everything going on around you: traffic, pedestrians, street signals, plus navigating city streets. Pulling out a smartphone to tell you where you need to go, following instructions on a screen, or listening to directions are added distractions that just aren’t smart from a safety perspective.
“The main challenge was creating a smart device that could offer multiple advanced features, while being as minimalist as possible,” Gabriel Alberola, the UX Director at SmartHalo, says. “While every other smart biking accessories often include screens, we decided to explore a new paradigm. Since the project’s inception, we knew we needed to create a user interface that would be able to communicate information at a quick glance.”
At its core, the SmartHalo uses a ring of different colored lights to tell you where to ride. It automatically pairs with your smartphone over low-energy Bluetooth when you get on the bike and turns itself off when you leave. Forget where you parked your bike? Not a problem: the app remembers where you left your ride.
The device is designed to be a permanent fixture on your handlebars, it’s weatherproof, and it attaches with a special tool making it nearly impossible to remove without it. If someone tries to steal the device, it starts flashing red lights to deter the thief. If he or she continues to tamper with it, then an audible alarm goes off. Plus, when it gets dark, a standard bike light turns on.
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