Production Update: Hardware

We’ve spent the summer moving production along and we have some updates to share. Today, we’ll focus on hardware. 

Main Enclosure

The main enclosure is in the final stages of design and being tweaked for mass-production (DFM), as sometimes a few touch-ups need to be made to be compatible with the molding process. We’ve designed it to be water resistant and sturdy: it’ll handle cities as much as trails. 

A high-fidelity machined prototype (that’s what explains the funky colours) to test water resistance and material resistance.

Anti-Theft Mount

The Anti-theft mount’s design has definitely been a challenge. The goals behind it would give gray hairs to any product designer: to be theft-proof yet easily removable with your custom key in a matter of seconds (but way smaller than a lock). We also wanted to improve the first version of the locking mechanism and brackets drastically, as it was feedback we had received from our users. 

The new system still uses custom magnet patterns to lock and unlock your SmartHalo, but there are less moving parts and the magnets are stronger which results in a more reliable locking system. Unlike the mount for SmartHalo 1 which consisted of two separate brackets that sometimes made it difficult to align, there is now only one unit that attaches to your handlebar. Furthermore, it is now made of glass fiber reinforced nylon which is known for its toughness and stiffness (to give you an idea: it’s used for industrial drills). 

To unlock your device, you simply insert your key underneath SmartHalo 2 and rotate the device. Unlike SmartHalo 1, you don’t need your key to put SmartHalo 2 back on the Anti-theft mount: it’ll simply snap into place. 

Finally, we wanted to reduce the initial install time: at 10-15 minutes, it was a bit too long for our taste (and for our users). We’re happy to report it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes now. We also reduced the number of small parts needed for the mount, going from 18 to… 7. Hurray for simplicity!

HaloKey Design

We’ve refined the HaloKey’s design: it is slimmer and sturdier than before. Its styling was meant to have people ask about it when it’s on your key fob, as it doesn’t look like much else out there. 

Quarter Lock Adapter

Our quarter lock adapter’s design is complete. It allows you to use SmartHalo on any Quarter Lock Mount out there. For those unfamiliar with Quarter Lock Mounts, it’s those circular mounts that are widely used by road cyclists with their bike computers. They come in many shapes, which makes them really versatile. However, since Quarter Lock Mounts don’t have a locking mechanism such as our standard Anti-Theft Mount, we don’t recommend relying exclusively on the alarm, unless it’s only for a quick in-and-out or when you’re not too far from your bike and want to rest easy.

To use SmartHalo 2 with a Quarter Lock Mount, you simply insert the adapter underneath your device and you’re good to go. 

Some backers have asked us if we’ll sell our own branded Quarter Lock Mounts: we are looking into it. 

The fulfilment survey is coming soon

In a few weeks we’ll send you a fulfilment survey. 

For those who are not familiar with the proceedings after a successful Kickstarter project, this is how it works: now that the campaign is over, we’ll send you an email in the following weeks with a link to a fulfilment survey. The main goal is to collect your contact information to insure your SmartHalo 2 is smoothly delivered to you. 

In the survey you will be asked to tell us where you want your SmartHalo to be shipped. It will also allow you to shop add-ons like another SmartHalo or accessories we may offer (at Kickstarter prices of course).

We’ll send the survey through a service called BackerKit which will also allow you to update your shipment address if necessary in the time between you fill it and the time we fulfill your order.

We’ll be sending another update just before we send out the surveys with more details about the procedure.

You know interested people who missed the campaign?

We’ve partnered with Indiegogo,to stay available for those who missed the campaign and to reach backers from their platform. The price is obviously higher since it’s past the Kickstarter campaign and closer to the release, but we think it’s still a very good deal. Feel free to share with anyone who might be interested in SmartHalo 2! 

Stay tuned for a future update on the tech inside SmartHalo 2. Until then, happy cycling! 

These Six Insane Bike Laws Will Make You Laugh (or Cry)

Every urban cyclist knows that bike laws don’t always make sense. From the distance cyclists should keep from the curb to whether or not they should ride on the sidewalk, municipalities are constantly trying to negotiate and re-negotiate the delicate relationship between cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. Recent attempts by cities around the world to introduce mandatory helmet laws and bicyclist licensing policies have only added to the controversy.

However, there are some cycling rules that pretty much everyone can agree are just plain strange. Here are six of the craziest, silliest and weirdest bike laws from the US and Canada.

Crazy Cycling Rule #1: Cyclists Must Attach a 15-Foot High Fluorescent Orange Flag to the Back of their Bicycle

The flag required would be a little bit bigger than this one. Photo: Dennis Bratland.

The flag required would be a little bit bigger than this one. Photo: Dennis Bratland.

Yup, you read that right: Representative Jay Houghton from Missouri thinks that cyclists should attach 15-foot high fluorescent orange flags to the back of their bicycles, to make absolutely sure they are seen by motorists. Local cyclists expressed concerns that this weird bike rule would not improve safety, and could lead to a dangerous situation in strong winds. Houghton admits that the bill he proposed in the US House of Representatives is ridiculous, but he thinks “it got people talking about the issue” of bicycle safety on the highways… which it definitely did!

Crazy Cycling Rule #2: Cyclists Must Dismount and Allow Faster Vehicles to go Ahead of Them

This cyclist will have to dismount so we can pass him in our 18-wheeler. Photo: Mat Fascione.

This cyclist will have to dismount so we can pass him in our 18-wheeler. Photo: Mat Fascione.

In January of this year, legislators in South Dakota proposed a bill that would “require persons operating bicycles under certain conditions to stop and allow faster vehicles to pass.” Specifically, this would have meant that when riding on a road with a 3-foot or narrower shoulder, cyclists would have to pull over and dismount from their bicycle every time a faster vehicle came up behind them. Since pretty much every vehicle on the road is faster than a bike, this would result in a whole lot of stopping for cyclists—making this strange bike law a worthy addition to our list.

Crazy Cycling Rule #3: It is Prohibited to Ride your Bike in a Swimming Pool

Looks like fun. Photo: Homagni Batista.

Looks like fun. Photo: Homagni Batista.

Just in case you were planning on enjoying a pleasurable day of underwater biking anytime soon, make sure you do so far away from Baldwin Park, California! It is unclear when the law against riding in a swimming pool was instated or what the original purpose was, besides its humour value. In fact, the whole thing may very well be an urban legend—but we’d like to think some innocent swimmers were protected from unruly underwater cyclists in the process.

Crazy Cycling Rule #4: It is Forbidden to Ride a Bicycle Faster than 65 Miles per Hour (100 km/hour)

Even these guys aren't going at that speed.

Even these guys aren’t going at that speed.

Think you’re a fast biker? Not as fast as whomever inspired this Connecticut bike law, which bans riding a bicycle at a speed normally reserved for cars, motorcycles and the occasional cheetah. To date, only two people in history, a Dutch man and a French woman, have ever reached this speed on a bicycle. Guess we won’t be seeing them in Connecticut anytime soon.

Crazy Cycling Rule #5: It is Illegal to Attach a Siren to your Bicycle

This probably wouldn't fit on a bike.

This probably wouldn’t fit on a bike.

Horn? Check. SmartHalo? Check. Siren? I don’t think so. Since 1973, residents of Sudbury, Ontario have enjoyed a quiet town, free from the noise of sirens on rowdy cyclists’ bicycles. So if you were planning on bringing back the 1950s with one of these somewhat-cool vintage bike sirens, you’re out of luck. But although the law is outdated, we have to admit it makes sense—listening to the noise of dozens of those riding around the block might get tiring after a while.

Crazy Cycling Rule #6: It is Illegal to Carry a Bicycle Inside Any Public Building

bikinglaw-dallas

Is this a public building or not?

Amid controversy over Dallas’ helmet law, section 9-2 of the city’s law code has remained widely overlooked. According to City Ordinance 13686, it is illegal to carry or push a bicycle inside any public building in Dallas—that means no more bringing your bike inside at work to protect it from foul weather! (Luckily, they don’t get much snow in Dallas). Or does “public building” refer only to government buildings? City officials are unsure. Either way, this spells an end for any members of the public who might have planned on wheeling their bicycles through Dallas City Hall.

***

The truth is that many municipalities still have laws on the books from many years ago, and often no one quite remembers why they were created in the first place. But although these laws may address silly scenarios and contribute little to road safety, they add a bit of humour to the sometimes stressful task of understanding bike law.

 

August Production Update

After discussing with the whole team and considering the upcoming tasks, we decided that we needed more time before shipping SmartHalo. We realized we need to further test and tweak SmartHalo to make it as good as we promised. There have also been unexpected delays in production and with suppliers/manufacturers due to summertime vacations.

Thus, we have to announce that units will start shipping in December, barring any major hiccup. The delay is only announced today because some things have cleared up in the last days and we just reconfirmed our production timelines.

We are 100% confident that we will ship SmartHalo to you and we want to thank you for your support and patience!

Where we are at and what’s causing the delay

Let’s recap where we currently stand in regards to production, what’s done and what required some extra time:

  • Electronics: Our pre-release circuit boards are behaving well in our tests but we did run into some challenges. The sound output is still non-stable and can damage the battery and supply circuit in the long term. We’re investigating this in depth and are working with an analog electronic design expert for the final version of the circuit board. In other news, every chip and component have been received and are ready to be assembled by our manufacturing partner as soon as we have our final version of the circuit board
DSC_1750

Components kindly waiting to be assembled

  • Casing: Most plastic moulds are done but we’ve had big delays with development of our main SmartHalo casing. First, we’ve had issues of heat dissipation which is critical since we need to make sure the product won’t overheat. This issue has been dealt with in the last months with the help of Creaform, an engineering consultants firm; they’ve made several heat analysis you can see below and confirmed the components wouldn’t overheat. We’ve also needed to work extra time to make sure the device would resist thunderstorms: our partners Tak Design have helped us refine our front lens to make it waterproof – the rest of the casing was already waterproof.

Heat Map Heat Map

  • Firmware: SmartHalo’s brain is taking shape. We’re testing the pre-release code and tweaking details, the turn signal timings in particular require lots of attention.
  • Software: The SmartHalo app has all main features working well. We’ve started integrating some design tweaks and will further work on the secure device pairing as well as the introduction tutorials. The extra time will also help us refine Fitness features. We recorded a tour of the application that you can see below (note that this is not the final version of the app but what it looks like at the moment.)

Quality of the product (really) matters

As you may know, SmartHalo was initially funded on Kickstarter. There, we were asked to enter an Estimated Delivery Date, based on our best guess. It can be too early on the process to guess correctly, and very often, companies are too optimistic on the delivery date, which was our case (and we are not alone: a research project showed that 71.4% of projects delivered late).

Product development means unforeseen bugs and uncertain timelines but we don’t want to take any shortcuts because we will all agree that the quality of the product matters. As game designer Shigeru Miyamoto said “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”.

We know the disappointment this news will bring and we are sorry that you won’t be able to use our device this fall. We are as impatient as all of you to finally put our hands on SmartHalo and we ask you to bear with us for the few months left.

To give you a glimpse of the overall progress, we thought we’d show you a trip with SmartHalo filmed with a GoPro (sorry for the quality, it’s quite bouncy…). We’re pretty thrilled to be navigating Montreal’s streets with SmartHalo and can’t wait for you guys to try it.

We’ll be back soon with the rest of our testing updates!