See.Sense ICON Smart lights. They are smart, bright and flashy, what’s not to like?? The ICON smart lights are another Kickstarter darling which has made it to the mainstream. Let’s see how smart they are!
See.Sense ICON Smart Bike Light Review
As we’re now well into Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, the opportunity to review See.Sense ICON smart lights came, up. Never one to say “no” to tech here is a review of See.Senses connected lights.
The terminology “smart” is thrown around an awful lot in the tech world. Typically meaning that the produce has some form of increased connectivity with a smartphone. With that in mind See.Sense use a very clear graphic on their site and booths explaining what they term a smart light
Surprisingly the BEST feature in my opinion of the See.Sense ICON is not listed. But we’ll come to that in a moment
There are two brightnesses available, 2×210 or 2×160 lumens for the front and 2×125 or 2×95 lumens for the rear. Both will be easily visible, but as ever with lights – bigger is better!
– Before we go any further let’s have a look at the lights themselves
The See.Sense ICON is available as the rear light on it’s own or as a double pack with front and rear lights. Here I’ll be focusing on the rear light, as that is going to be a directly more useful upgrade for most people
Inside the box, we have the usual gubbins. Two rubber straps (one to affix to the bike, one as a spare), USB cable, manual and a flyer directing you to the ICON app.
Both front and rear lights look pretty similar. But the red seal visible through the clear plastic identified the rear light when both are powered off
Central black button works as an on/off switch, and mode changer if you are without your phone
On the back, we have a thick rubber mount for use with a standard seat post
See.Sense will also sell you a flat, or aero mounts via their website in a £14.99 bundle
The mounts actually work as the cover for the micro USB port as well
I find that the unit looks quite tidy when mounted on the rear
I’m not quite sure the front mountings are quite as elegant on bars
However, the longer rubber straps available nicely allow you to fit the See.Sense ICON front light to a head tube, which I think it much better regarding a light “to see seen with” rather than something which you are using for lighting your way. Plus I’m always very pro any mount approach which takes things directly off my bars.
- Brightness: Total 190 Lumens from 2x 95 CREE LED’s
- Weight: 64gram inc mount
- Auto On/Off
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Waterproofing: IP67
- Battery life: 15hrs, recharge 5 hrs, Micro USB Charging
Yup, it’s a pretty waterproof as See.Sense are happy to demonstrate
Using the Device
Even the 95 lumen light reviewed here is piercingly bright and is easily going to notify drivers and other road users to your existence.
The two CREE LED’s have slightly different lenses on the See.Sense ICON, giving each LED a slightly different function
The LED on the LEFT of the device is flat, for a more focused beam, while the RIGHT LED has a Fresnel lens to disperse light sideways, increasing side visibility
The accelerometer in the lights will also have an effect on their flashing patterns. Measuring 800 times a second accelerations and decelerations decrease, and increase the speed of flashes, hoping to alert other users to your changes in speed.
Ok so the lights are very nice, bright, and have clever internals, but what about the smart stuff, where does my phone come into play?
First things first, you need to get hold of the See.Sense Icon app, from either Apple or Google Play store. Which will allow you to check battery level, and firmware updates, as well as generally control the lights
Then as with any Bluetooth kit, search for the lights and then connect, which occurred within seconds of looking for the light. After the first connection, you’ll be advised to update your lights firmware as needed. This page will tell you also what the firmware update brings
As of July 2016, the Crash Alert functionality also allows the See.Sense app to send an SMS to your chosen crash alert number, and ALSO a google maps coordinates from the crash
In theory anyway. I tried to roll the lights down the stairs (they are really quite tough)
Although I wasn’t able to trigger the crash functionality. The algorithm inside requires the registering of an impact, fall, and change in orientation, which I’m hoping a tumble down the stairs would stimulate, but clearly not! However, I’m not planning on trying any further real life testing of the crash function.
Also using the accelerometer, the See.Sense ICON also has theft detection built in, very much the same as on the Fly12 camera. You engage theft detection when the bike is secured, not whilst using the See.Sense ICON for lighting, AND then you walk more than 3m away from your lights. When “armed” any movement of the bike is detected by the inbuilt accelerometer triggers, triggering a surprisingly loud alarm from your phone
The theft alert also comes through as a notification to your phone, but you don’t even need to have your phone in your hand if your smart watch capable of displaying notifications
However, as the See.Sense ICON can only connect over Bluetooth; the alarm function only works over a distance of about 10-20m away from the bike depending on what buildings you are asking the lights to transmit a signal over.
In terms of operating the See.Sense ICON lights as, well lights, the app allows you to turn the lights on and off, as well as to choose from four different flashing patterns; Normal, “A&E”, In-sync, and Eco.
Earlier I mentioned that the See.Sense infographic seemed to be missing off what I consider the best feature. The accelerometer can also be used as an on/off switch – When you get off the bike, the light stops flashing after 3 minutes of inactivity, and similarly when you move the bike, the See.Sense ICON switches on again to the last mode used.
For me, this is excellent, as it’s one less thing to switch off after a ride. Plus See.Sense states that using the ICON in this way uses no extra battery than actually switching the unit off directly! Win-Win, and frankly should be shouted about a little more, more so that “USB charging” anyway!
As a regular rear light, the See.Sense ICON is very impressive regarding brightness and internal functionality – the inclusion of an accelerometer to automatically changing flashing patterns as you break, etc. is great. Similarly, the auto on/off is BRILLIANT. So we already have a “smart” light by most peoples measure. I’m not sure however that the smartphone integration significantly adds more utility to the lights. The ability to check exactly the battery life remaining, and control the flashing functions are excellent additions, whilst the theft detection is a nice additional extra. I’m not going to comment on crash alerts, as I haven’t been able to test them
If you are looking for a general rear light this winter, frankly I would have recommended the See.Sense ICON based on the hardware alone. The addition of a few Bluetooth Smart extra is just a cherry on top.
The See.Sense Icon is an easy 4/5, and I’d be happy recommending it!