If you do any amount of cycling out on public roadways, you will understand why it certainly can’t hurt to add a little bit of “intelligence” on to the road by using an Artificial Intelligence (AI) cycling light. The ICON+ rear bike light by See.Sense is the only bike light in the world that has artificial intelligence built-in so that it can react by flashing brighter and faster at roundabouts, road-junctions, and approaching car headlights at night. While at this CES 2018 this past January, I got to sit down and talk with Irene McAleese in the See.Sense booth about the ICON+ bike light, and she sent me home with an ICON+ to try out.
What Is the ICON+ Bike Light?
The See.Sense ICON rear bike light is a very compact and bright (both from a visual intensity perspective and an intelligence perspective) light you install on the back of our bike so that you are visible to cars approaching you from the rear. The ICON light from the outside looks very similar to other bike lights that are out on the market, but the similarity ends there.
What really sets the ICON apart from other rear cycling lights are the extra features that are packed into this incredibly light and compact package:
- Seriously bright (250-lumen twin LEDs)
- Sensor reactivity: intelligently responds to your environment
- Long runtime (15 hours)
- Lightweight (64 grams with mount)
- Smartphone connected/controlled
- Crash alerts (automatically alerts your loved ones in event of a crash)
- Bike theft detection
- Daylight visibility
- 270-degree visibility due to use of a Fresnel lens
- Water resistant (IP67)
ICON Installation, Setup, and Use
Since the ICON is a “smart” light and works in conjunction with your smartphone, the first step is to connect the ICON via Bluetooth and configure the light with the See.Sense ICON smartphone app (available from Apple and Google). Once you connect the ICON light with the app you have the option to add in an emergency contact phone number and enable the “Crash Mode” option. The sensors built into the ICON can detect when your bike has been involved in a crash so that, with Crash Mode enabled, the light in conjunction with your smartphone will send a text alert to your emergency contact telling them you have crashed and showing them your exact location. During the setup, you also have the option of sending a test text message. I did this while sitting in the living room with my wife so she thought it was pretty funny that I crashed my bike in the living room and needed assistance. The SMS message includes the text “I have had a crash and my location is [longitude/latitude].”
Once the ICON+ is paired and you have set up crash detection notifications, the operation of the ICON+ is relatively straightforward. You need to open the app and, as long as your ICON+ is in range, it will show up in the main app window as a device you can connect to. Select the “Connect” button under your device, and that brings up the control display I have pictured above. Now that the ICON+ is connected, you can either turn the light on by pressing and holding down the physical button on the face of the light or selecting the “Power” icon next to the “Mode” option in the app. Both the physical button and the “Pattern” toggle in the app let you switch between a solid light and a flashing pattern. The intensity of the light can be selected only from within the app within 10% increments between 10% and 100%. The last main feature of the app is the ability to enable “Theft Mode.” If you are making a quick stop somewhere and don’t want to go through the hassle of locking up your bike, you can enable this mode and if the ICON+ light detects movement of your bike it will immediately send an alert to your phone (as long as you are within 100 feet of your bike).
With the setup out of the way, now it’s time for normal use. With a 15-hour battery life, you can simply leave the ICON+ attached to your seat post or seat bag. Before you start your ride you will need to connect to the ICON+ via the smartphone app in order to “turn it on,” but once the ICON+ is on you can either activate the light through the app or by pressing and holding the physical button on the face of the light. Choose a steady red light or a blinking pattern and you are ready to ride. The smartphone app combined with the light does the rest for you during your ride.
I am very fortunate in that I have a long stretch of very scenic and relatively traffic-free riding near my home, but it does take about 2 miles of riding in traffic to reach my normal cycling route “safe haven.” There is one intersection in particular that I don’t like driving through in a car, much less on a bike. That is where the reactive sensors in the ICON+ really shine (yeah, I meant to do that).
The ICON+ knows I am approaching an intersection and automatically starts blinking faster and brighter, which immediately helps draw more attention to me and my bike at this intersection. If you are a cyclist, you know that just being seen by cars is most of the battle. Knowing that this little light has my back is great peace of mind. And did I mention how bright it was? I wrote most of this review while riding on my indoor cycling desk, and just for fun, I decided to turn on my ICON+. I was in the living room and my family was in front of me facing away from me watching TV. I turned on the ICON+ and it was like I had just let loose a road flare in the house. I told my family it was appropriate because, after all, I was on a bike and it was important to be seen. They didn’t think it was very funny because all they were seeing was spots.
This is one extremely bright light. 250 lumens is a serious amount of photons for such a small, lightweight light to be pumping out. That being said, when you are out on the road it is not nearly so obnoxious (visible but not eye-searing and annoying). I mean, you want cars to see you but you certainly don’t want them to be angry with you, right? 250 lumens is just right for daylight or dusk/dawn riding to make sure you are seen, and then for full night riding conditions, you can adjust the brightness down to keep it from being too overly bright for other road users.
The construction of the ICON+ is solid. I particularly like how See.Sense has combined the seat post adapter that attaches to the back of the light with the water-proofing plug element that keeps the recharging port safe from rain and moisture. I live in Florida, so we get a lot of rain and moisture, but so does Northern Ireland, which is where the folks at See.Sense are based out of. It shows. I have no worries about water getting into this light.
I’ve ridden with a handful of various rear bike lights over the years, but so far the ICON+ has been my favorite. It’s small, extremely bright, and it has a nice long battery life. It even doubles as a bike theft detection unit in a pinch. You really can’t go wrong with this light. You can purchase an ICON+ rear bike light from Amazon and directly from See.Sense.
The Future Is Even Brighter
But wait, there’s more. See.Sense is already prepping to release its next-generation bike light, the ACE. The ACE is already the most backed bike light in Kickstarter history. ACE is the 4th generation of bike light from See.Sense and is available now for pre-order. Once the new ACE bike light is available, we hope to bring you a full review of it right here on GeekDad.
Disclaimer: See.Sense supplied me with an ICON+ rear bike light to abuse in the Florida weather for the purposes of this review.