I posted about Evan Solida’s Cerevellum concept in December of last year. If you didn’t see that post, check it out before you read on and take a look at the Cerevellum website to familiarize yourself with the concept.
One of the distinctive components of the modular Cerevellum system is the Hindsight feature, which allows the cyclist to see a live rear view display on the head unit’s screen. A short time after my initial post, I had a chance to ride with Evan and try out his rough Hindsight prototype. I couldn’t post anything until now because Evan was in talks with a possible manufacturer. Unfortunately, that deal didn’t work out, so he has given me the OK to post the photos that I took on my test ride several months ago. It was a very sunny winter day at about noon when we rode, so my pictures of the display didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. The image on the display looked a lot better in person, but I think these shots give you a rough idea.
In response to my original post and posts on other blogs, several people commented that the concept was just an expensive replacement for an inexpensive helmet mirror. There is no doubt that helmet mirrors have a loyal following of users who are not going to switch to something like this, but it is worth noting that most recreational cyclists are never going to use helmet mirrors. I won’t go into detail about the pros and cons of helmet or glasses mounted mirrors, but I will say that I don’t use them. Like many other cyclists, I just don’t want something in my field of vision while I am riding. I think a product like Cerevellum would be aimed at a different rider. In general the types of riders who use power meters, heart rate monitors, GPS based computers, and other features that would likely be modules for the Cerevellum system, are not the same riders who use helmet mirrors. Yeah, I know there are some exceptions, but I am speaking generally about the target market for a product like this.
I already stated that I don’t use a helmet mirror, but I would consider a product like this if it were integrated with the electronics I already use. Take a look around on any group ride and you will see quite a few handlebars that look pretty crowded with various gadgets. Consolidating those display units makes sense, so I think the modular idea is a good one. If I already have a LCD display on my bars, why not use it to see what is happening behind me? It wouldn’t replace looking back before changing lanes or position, but I think Hindsight could be a useful tool for increasing a riders awareness of his or her surroundings.
So how was the ride with the prototype, you are probably wondering? Well, it was pretty cool. As you can see, the Hindsight prototype that I used looks pretty rough and uses a Game Boy for the display, but it worked well and the image was surprisingly steady. The camera was located in the left bar end plug and was barely visible. As you can see in the display shots, my leg was sometimes visible in the view, but that wasn’t really a problem. A seatpost mounted camera would probably be better from that standpoint, but the tiny bar end camera was about as unobtrusive as you can get and all the wiring from the camera to the head unit was concealed. I didn’t take any pictures in traffic, but we did venture onto a busy road to test it out. Actually, we went onto a road that I normally try to avoid just to see the heavy lunch hour traffic on the display. It was pretty cool how much detail I could see on the little black and white screen as the traffic passed us. Some of the trucks were coming by pretty close, so I was happy to get off that road after a mile or so after getting the gist of it.
Once we were back on lightly trafficked roads, it was pretty neat to be able to see Evan behind me in the display. At one point, I saw him fumbling with his water bottle, and I knew that it was time to put the hammer down and leave him in the dust. OK, it has been a few months, so maybe I am embellishing a bit. Actually, it was a friendly lunchtime ride and there was no sprinting at all (I’m pretty sure he could take me in a sprint anyway). I do, however, think that beyond the safety benefits, the Hindsight feature could be useful for quickly seeing what is going on behind you in a fast group ride or race. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to just stare at the screen while you are riding in a pack, but a quick glance is all it takes to know what the rider on your wheel is doing.
So there you are. I thought it was a pretty good idea when I first saw the Cerevellum concept and after riding with the hindsight prototype, I still think it has a lot of potential to be a viable product. Evan would still like to sell the concept to a manufacturer, but I want to stress that, at this point, Cerevellum does not exist and he has no plans to bring the product to market himself. If you are interested in manufacturing the concept, get in touch with Evan. Otherwise; the prototype that I rode might be the end of the road for Hindsight and the Cerevellum concept.