Cyclists often rely on pedestrians when navigating to new territory. And in countries such as India, it's a common sight to have cyclists deliver goods – very commonly milk – to numerous neighborhoods.
In a group of three other members, I attempted to provide such cyclists an at-a-glance bicycle computer to assist with their daily needs. We worked under the constraints of having a low cap on the product's overall price, and that the interface and the information should easily be understood by a wide strata of society.
We established that there mustn't be an overload of information, and kept only essential information on display, that too available even at a quick glance – so that it won't require looking at the screen for too long.
We understood the intended user's background and daily usage. From there, we also gathered what information would be relevant to him/her on a regular basis. Here, we decided to minimize the use of text and relied primarily on numbers and symbols.
An E-ink display was factored to be the appropriate choice of screen given the following advantages:
- Paper-like readability in the sun due to the absence of glare (that would be present in similar LCD panels). This is a huge plus considering most deliveries are made under the bright daylight.
- Very low power consumption. E-ink displays are known to last weeks before discharging. Not having to recharge a battery every day is a plus in any scenario, and it's a real winner for places prone to power cuts.
- Vastly Cheaper. Than LCDs – the prime competition.
The screen was (virtually) divided into six equal portions and information was grouped in accordance to relevance.
The left side of the screen was reserved for information pertaining to the two-wheeler, such as the weight it is carrying (on the top-left), and the status of each tire of the bicycle (on the bottom-left). A checkmark indicates everything is alright. A cross is an indication to check if something's wrong.
On the right, a speedometer (on the top-right), and an odometer (on the bottom-right), one for the current trip, and one for the total distance covered. These functions can be assisted using GPS, if not directly wired.
On the center, there is a small compass to indicate the direction of movement. And behind that, a gyroscope assisted level to denote weight bias, if at all, on any side. Its functionality is akin to a digital spirit level.
The device operates on a simple construction with only two primary buttons – a power button, and a green "flip-screen" switch.
The "flip-screen" button toggles between the two screens that the device displays – an informative HUD, and a GPS assisted map screen (powered by Google Maps). This way the user can directly see where he/she is.
Using Bluetooth, the functionality can be extended to provide complete GPS assisted navigation, allowing the user to pick start and end points for the navigation as well.