Crashing when you're riding on your own can be serious especially in the cold and dark of winter. ICEdot's Crash Sensor can let a contact know within a minute should the worse happen and they can even direct the emergency services to you from their armchair.
Getting the ICEdot up and running is really simple. By registering the sensor on their website you create an account which is where you put in your details and those of your emergency contacts. I put my wife's details in and selected SMS for the type of alert though you can also choose email or a phone call. Within a minute she was sent an SMS to confirm she was happy to be a contact and that was it, job done. The whole thing took about ten minutes.
Next up you need the app for the sensor to talk to and for that you'll need a smartphone (iPhone 4s and above or an Android running 4.3 or later, 4.4.2 if you're using a Samsung) once installed and Bluetooth turned on you're ready to go.
Giving the Crash Sensor a little shake wakes it up for the Bluetooth to pair and once you tap 'GO' you're live.
It works in practice
A new addition to the ICEdot is a manual alarm which you can send by selecting it in the app so this was the first test. As soon as I'd confirmed to send the alert my wife received a text with the message I had set up on my profile: my coordinates and an internet link to a map showing exactly where I was. Pretty impressive stuff considering I was sitting at the dining room table.
Next I had a little play with throwing the helmet in the garden. As soon as the helmet hit the ground the 'Impact Detected' page shows on the phone with a countdown to when it will send the alert. This is customisable from 15 seconds to 2 minutes and gives you chance to cancel in a false alarm. A swipe of the slider on your phone screen resets everything. You can set an audible alert to letting you know the impact has been detected.
Originally the ICEdot Crash Sensor would only activate after an impact but it now offers a live tracking option too. You need to provide your emergency contact with your personal number. They can then either text ICEdot and receive your last known coordinates or they can log into your account and use the map on there. This is useful if you are late but haven't sent an alert, if this is due to no coverage the map will show your last known point.
On the road testing has shown a consistent location fix every time delivered to the wife's phone instantly and although I haven't had to use it for real yet I'd be confident that if needed help it could find me pretty damn quickly.
The techy stuff
The reason you attach the sensor to the helmet is so that it can copy the movement of your head as you go about your normal ride. It does this by the use of a gyroscope and a three-axis accelerometer to measure the forces as your head moves. The reason it uses both is so that it can measure the forces in all directions. For instance an initial impact might not be that heavy but a secondary could be much higher in another plane, a whiplash effect. Either movement might not be enough to trigger the impact alarm but the two combined (taking into account speed and direction) could be; it's up to the algorithm to determine this.
If the algorithm determines that the forces are high enough that they could cause any type of brain trauma the app is triggered into connecting with the ICEdot servers and the notification is sent to your emergency contact, once the countdown has reached zero.
The sensor uses Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (BLE) and I certainly haven't noticed any effect on the battery usage on my iPhone 4s. ICEdot quote a BLE range of 10m so you shouldn't have any issues with your phone being in a jersey pocket.
The lithium polymer battery fully charges in 4 hours and gives a claimed 20 hours of operating time which I have had no trouble reaching and regularly surpassing especially in the warm weather of the last few weeks. There isn't any battery level indication on the sensor itself its all provided by the app.
Getting the sensor wet hasn't been an issue either which is impressive considering some of the downpours I've ridden through. The electronics are sealed and if water does get inside the casing all you need to do is let it dry out before recharging.
The helmet mount must be fitted securely with cable ties to back up the sticky pad. If it can move amount or bounce as you ride as this could create a false alert, you're going to look a bit of a prat when a fleet of ambulances are driving towards you with blue lights flashing because a panicked partner has phoned 999.
There is really only one problem with the ICEdot: riding somewhere where there is no phone coverage. There are a few places around where I ride that have none but thanks to the tracking option your location still be narrowed down to a section of road. It would be a bit trickier if you were in the middle of the woods, but with a bit of detective work you could be found just not as quickly.
While the app on iOS 8 works perfectly ICEdot do have this statement on their website for Android users: "There is a catch here, people use the term Android like it's a singular phone when in fact, it's hundreds of phones and each phone manufacturer makes their own customizations to the system, some of which can cause conflicts. The app we released is tested and fully supported on Nexus phones. Google makes the Nexus and they make Android – so its the most 'pure' version of the system. The app is in public beta on all other devices running Android 4.3 or later. Samsung devices require 4.4.2."
I did a bit of Googling though and couldn't find any real issues so I don't think this will be a problem.
For £140 I think the ICEdot Crash Sensor is brilliant for solo riders and well worth the investment for peace of mind. For that price you get a year's subscription (following years are £5) a wrist band and a pack of stickers with your PIN number on. Should you be found by a non-emergency contact they can text this PIN to the shown number to receive medical details and activate an alert. If you have any medical conditions this is a great way for the emergency services to know what they are dealing with.
Its well made and works faultlessly plus the battery is constantly putting out good run times. Apart from the possibility of lack of coverage I can't really see a fault with the whole concept or its execution.
A smart little device and all round package that makes those dark winter rides a little bit safer; easy set up too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: ICEdot Crash Sensor and Band
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The ICEdot Crash Sensor is designed for situations where a crash which could result in brain injury (unconciousness/concussion) and the user is unable to call for help. By using GPS through your phone it can provide your emergency contacts with location details of where you are. I think it's a brilliant and simple to use device that puts my wife's mind at rest while I'm out on the bike.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Phone types currently supported:
iPhone 4S or later (BLE 4.0 Required)
Android phones running 4.3 or later with BLE support.
All Samsung phones require 4.4.2
1 ICEdot Crash Sensor
1 helmet mounting clip (adheres or zip ties to helmet)
1 USB to Micro USB charging cable
1 Yr Premium ICEdot Membership
Operating temperature: 0°F to 122°F (-18°C to 50°C)
Water immersion: up to 1 meter for 30 minutes
Communications: Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (BLE)
BLE range: up to 30 feet (10 meters)
Battery technology: Rechargeable Lithium-polymer
Operating time: Approx. 20 hours
Standby time: Approx. 30 days
Charging power USB 5 volts (USB micro-B connector)
Charging time: Approx. 4 hours
The case feels a little on the cheap plasticy side but its whats inside thats important and that all works without issue.
Brilliant, in practice texts were delivered instantly with accurate location fixes.
Everything is fine at the moment but I'll be watching bracket wear as its only thin plastic. It could become brittle in really cold weather
You don't even know it's there.
I think that the £140 is an acceptable price to pay for the peace of mind and the performance but it is just $119 in the US.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliantly, no false alerts and precise location fixes every time.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The simplicity of use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Its not going to be great for those with weak network coverage plus I think only one helmet mount is a bit stingy.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
It's a great product and does exactly what it says on the tin. The UK price does seem steep though compared to the US one and it could do with at least two mounts in the box (or am I the only one with more than one helmet?) That and the fact that it relies on network coverage means it doesn't quite get afull marks, it's nearly there though.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.