Thanks to technology, you don’t wear accessories anymore just to look better. These days, wearables add a multitude of functions to your life: they measure, play music, tell you where you are and how to get where you want to be, coach and connect you. It’s not surprising then that there is also a range of wearable tech for bikes. You know about the watches and the glasses, of course. They get all the hype. But here are two under-the-radar wearables that are unusual and useful enough to consider buying.
For example, the Bragi Dash Pro earbuds, which are not made expressly for cycling but are nevertheless perfect for the sport because, thanks to smart tracking and intelligent voice controls, they provide a perfect workout guide.
Their built-in sensors and smartphone connectivity provide instant feedback on metrics like speed and heart rate. If you want to know your cadence, you just give one of them a tap and the number is read out to you. And if you connect them to the free Bragi App, the Dash Pro tracks calories, ride duration and distance, and speed.
They also store music locally, which means you can listen to up to 1,000 of your favourite tracks even when not on the bike. Oh yeah, they also provide real-time translation of 40 languages so if you’re bike-touring abroad and having a conversation with a local, they will translate their responses immediately. If you’re worried – as you should be – about not being able to hear important traffic noises while riding, don’t be: Bragi has added an audio-transparency feature that gives you the option of allowing traffic and other background sounds to filter through the music or whatever you’re listening to.
There are two catches. The battery lasts only about five hours and the Dash Pro earbuds cost around £300. But that’s actually not expensive when you consider all the tech packed into two such tiny packages.
An airbag is actually not a wearable – unless it’s the Hövding wearable airbag that you zip in place around your neck and which is meant to replace the helmet you usually wear on top of your head. The device tracks your movements 200 times a minute, detects any abnormalities in your ride and can distinguish between a curb, a cobblestone bump and a real accident. It deploys instantly (0.1 seconds) with a loud bang in the case of an accident and becomes brick-hard to protect you from harm. It deflates after a few minutes. Thanks to its Bluetooth connection, it notifies selected contacts were you to crash.
This is a truly serious safety device. It runs an internal check each time you turn it on and continually runs self-diagnostics throughout the ride. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, you’re eight times less likely to receive a concussion with the Hövding airbag than with a standard helmet, and the possibility of a skull fracture is eliminated almost entirely. It’s also a cinch to slip on – no app to pair with, no assembly required. Just charge it with the included micro-USB.
Of course, it’s not cheap, costing about the same as the Dash Pro buds discussed above. For additional £50, you can get it with a fashionable cover of your choice such as Harris Tweed, Leopard or NeoMint – and then tell anyone who laughs at you for wearing the thing to buzz off.