Garmin’s Varia may convince me to ride my bike more

Better than Google Glass? Garmin Varia Vision works with the Varia Bike Radar.I’m often an early adopter of high tech gadgets, when it’s a no brainer. This one will help me stay alive longer and help me ride more safely on my hybrid bike beyond the bounds of my immediate neighborhood. Now, with Garmin’s Varia Bike Radar and Varia Vision, I may just try cycling to work.

Garmin recently bought Varia, a company whose technology focuses on radar designed to improve cyclist safety. Several months ago, Garmin rolled out Varia Rearview Bike Radar. which has a light that attaches to the rear of a bike and scans as far as about 450 feet. It works with a compatible unit that attaches to the bicycle handlebars, to warn the cyclist about what’s behind them and the rate that the object is approaching. (Yes, iKubu introduced a similar, less user friendly product with Backtracker.)

There are also Varia smart lights that adapt to a cyclist’s speed and weather conditions. When a cyclist uses the Varia with a compatible GPS, the Varia headlight will project its beam further ahead and adjust based on the speed of the bike. The tail light will use the same data to increase its intensity as a cyclist decelerates, thus warning traffic behind the Varia-enabled cyclist. What’s also cool is that the beams can automatically adjust in brightness via the GPS unit’s ambient light sensor.

Varia Vision, which also pairs well with the Varia Bike Radar, does almost everything Google Glass did, complete with a touch-sensitive strip on the side, for navigating the device’s UI, that works with wet fingers or while wearing gloves. And because it’s part of the company’s Varia line of cycling devices that was introduced in July of last year, the Vision can also connect to the Garmin Rearview Bike Radar and notify the wearer of a car coming up behind them so they can ensure they’re not riding in its path.

Yes, this technology is more appealing than Google Glass from my perspective. This is especially because sharing the road with increasingly crowded roads with aggressive drivers seems to result in more and more bicycle accidents in Seattle. These Garmin products help reduce cyclist accidents as cyclists can focus their eyes on the road ahead of them.

I wish I had learned about this before Christmas. But perhaps this would make a good Valentine’s Day gift (yes, I’ll make sure that my husband reads this blog post).

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