The ICEdot Crash Sensor: it could save your life
- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 27 January 2014
It’s small, yellow, and fits on your helmet and it waits patiently hoping never to spring into action. The ICEdot crash sensor reminds me of the Avy Beacons which extreme skiiers and snowboarder carry to help get them out of trouble if they are caught by an avalanche. The ICEdot Crash Sensor provides a similar function for cyclists by automatically informing emergency contacts, as well as sending your GPS coordinates, in the event of a serious crash. It could save a life; it could save your life.
Update: Reference to Personal Locating Beacons (PLBs or EPIRB) removed and changed to Avy Beacon. Thank you to a reader who provided detailed information on this technology.
The ICEdot pairs together with a smartphone (I will let you know which ones later) and runs with the ICEdot Crash Sensor app. Setting it up takes time, but is fairly straight forward. As you proceed through the setup and start entering your own details and emergency contact details online, you quickly realise that this a professional and serious device and service. Your unique medical details and needs, which could be crucial for medical professionals, can be added, in addition to your health cover details, profile, and emergency contact, and you choose who can view all of this information.
In the unfortunate event of an accident, the ICEdot triggers the smartphone app which in turn, via an SMS, triggers your account and passes on the details which you have entered via SMS, email, or phone to the emergency contact recipients. Simple.
This short video demonstrates the ICEdot in action and also provides an indication of the sensitivity of the crash sensor with the destruction of a mountain bike helmet. During this video demonstration, the second hard impact cracked much of the internal ribbing of the helmet, even though the helmet maintained its shape.
The yellow ICEdot device is charged via a USB cable (included) and a long charge of 8 hours or more was recommended for the first time; the unit will subsequently last for around 20 hours before needing a 4 hour recharge. There are no indicators to show when it is charged or has lost its charge. The unit is probably simpler and lighter because of this, but you need to be diligent in charging it.
UPDATE: ICEdot have provided feedback that the battery level is displayed when the app is running.
In the unfortunate event of an accident, the emergency notification is sent by a text message from your smart phone to a US number, and subsequently from the US to your emergency contacts. ICEdot Australia have commented that they are considering an Australian number, though in the grand scheme of things this wont influence the basic functionality of the unit. Of course, if you are cycling in extremely remote areas without any mobile phone coverage, it will mean that the smartphone can’t send the emergency notification.
After completing the initial setup and ‘pairing’ your ICEdot with the crash sensor app, each time you are ready to ride you need to ensure that your smartphone is connected, has the app started, and your ICEdot device is recognised and connected. Fortunately, the Icedot app can run in the background, so you can use other apps on your phone while cycling.
If a false alarm is triggered, it is easy to stop the countdown on the smartphone before the emergency contacts are notified (just slide to cancel), but you need to make sure you restart the app before you continue. When road cycling, it would be hard to miss if the countdown starts as the phone buzzes and vibrates, although I didn’t get any false alarms while riding. For mountain biking, in particular extreme mountain biking with a full face helmet, the ICEdot could possibly be triggered if you take an abrupt landing, but you may remain oblivious that the countdown has started.
On the ICEdot website, they show a beautiful POC helmet with the ICEdot device fitting perfectly on the back of it. On my two MTB helmets, the ICEdot could be mounted nicely on only one of them in a cavity at the rear. For the helmet that was destroyed [pictured above], the mount could still be comfortably fitted using the supplied cable-tie. On my Limar road helmet, however, the space at the back was too small so I had to fiddle to find a section upon which to mount the crash sensor – this is however just a minor aesthetic detail.
A more important issue is that if you are a luddite without a modern smartphone, then the ICEdot can’t help you,. And if you are not an iPhone4s or iPhone5 carrying Apple fanboy (or girl), then you’ll have to check first for phone and app compatibility. The iPhone4S and newer is supported, as is the Nexus 4 and 5. There is a “Public Beta” app for other Android phones. Windows phone users will have to wait.
UPDATE: ICEdot confirm that the Android app is now available for Google Nexus phones, Samsung still in the works, all other android is available on public beta. Plus next week additional app functionality will be added including a manual call for help and text tracking.
There is, fortunately, a second way that an emergency notification can be sent – the stickers supplied with the device, which you can put on your gear, provide brief instructions to send an SMS containing your unique ID, which triggers the notification process.
A salesman would now ask “So what would you pay for this device which could save your life one day?” Yes, this is a type of insurance and, while you never want to use it, it is “just-in-case”. In Australia, the ICEdot retails for $179 and includes a 1 year membership to the service; it then only costs $10 a year to renew your membership.
For extreme cyclists, who may be riding remotely and alone, this is a potentially useful safety device to have. For other cyclists, it probably comes down to knowing whether you would want your loved ones and emergency contacts to be immediately informed if you are in an accident.
There is more information and online ordering facilities for the ICEdot at www.icedot.com.au