Smart bike light makes a point of keeping things simple
Like a lot of other "smart" products, smart bike lights can sometimes be annoyingly complicated to operate. The Otto tail light is designed to be different, in that it does have some clever functions, but you just set it and forget it.
Created by Austin, Texas-based engineers Geoff Johnson and Jonathan Fiene, the waterproof Otto does not incorporate an app, a touchscreen or a remote. It does have a physical pushbutton control, but just the one. Users attach the light to their bike simply by pushing and twisting it into an included seatpost mount – there are actually two mounts in the package, so the device can be used on either of two bikes.
Once the user starts pedalling, the Otto's integrated IMU (inertial measurement unit) detects that the bike is in motion, while its ambient light sensor measures the brightness of the environment. The light responds by automatically setting its four primary red LEDs to one of five intensities and flashing patterns, optimized for a combination of maximum visibility and battery life. If it gets darker outside throughout the course of one ride, the light changes patterns accordingly.
The Otto additionally has a brake light feature, in which it temporarily flashes faster when the bike suddenly decelerates. Its pushbutton is used to enable a special Peloton mode, for use when riding in a pack with other cyclists. In this mode, the flashing pattern of an extra eight amber LEDs varies as the cyclist speeds up or slows down, warning riders following close behind.
The light automatically shuts itself off when the bike hasn't moved for a set amount of time. That said, if users wish to pull it off and use it as a flashlight of sorts, they can wake it up for 60 seconds simply by shaking it.
The device's four primary red LEDs have a combined output of 350 lumens. One ~30-minute Qi Wireless charge of its battery should reportedly be good for over 15 hours of runtime.
Should you be interested, the Otto light is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. Assuming it reaches production, a pledge of US$45 will get you one – the planned retail price is $65.