Bike tail lights come in many shapes and sizes, and we see a lot of them at DT. The newest one to hit Kickstarter this week is the FAST Smart Tail light. It’s smarter than some, dumber than others, but offers some cool features at a competitive price, and so it’s going “fast.”
First and most obvious are the 8 RGB LEDs. Traditional tail lights are red, and technically that’s what the law requires in many states. Take a look at the local legislation and see if you need to program at least some of the lights to stay red. In any case, you’ll have the freedom to do so using the FAST’s iOS or Android app. The pattern thing is admittedly pretty cool, even if you have to keep the main or central color red.
One of the Fun And Smart Taillight’s main smart features is fall detection. Sensors within the light detect when the bike goes horizontal and send an alert to your emergency contact. The app relies on the fact that most of us try not to lay our bikes down, simply because this can lead to scrapes and scratches to the paint.
The FAST tail light uses the same hardware for its anti-theft alarm. If someone jostles or moves the bike, the light will send an alert to the app, as long as you — or your phone — are within 20 meters. There’s an on-off switch on the light, but this is disabled when the alarm is activated and only the paired app can turn off the light’s alarm. The mount is a standard strap affair that is adjustable for many sizes of seatpost, which made me wonder if a thief couldn’t just take the light and keep walking. But at least you’ll know it’s gone right away.
As for its actual functionality as a light, one advantageous feature is that it can turn on automatically when night falls. With the ISO-Auto function active, light detection sensors will turn the tail light on when night falls. Considering that dusk is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road (as well as the time when you’re more likely to forget to turn it on yourself), that’s a convenient feature.
Battery life is up to 60 days in standby mode, in case you don’t take the bike out for over a month. Even at its brightest solid setting it should last 10 hours. BLE doesn’t drink too much energy, nor does it have built in GPS to further use and abuse the Li-Ion battery.
All of these stats are pretty cool, but they’re almost becoming expected of smart tail lights at this point. And as it is, we could hope for a light-intensity increase when we brake, or a GPS module in case the bike is stolen with the light attached.
The FAST team is planning on developing more apps in the future, including a nightlight/alarm. When DT suggested a Morse code translator, Carl Qin, the FAST Team’s electronics engineer responded, “We think Morse code is a very interesting idea … I think it’s doable with a pre-set message like SOS … We also think the LED and sound could be used for other applications and we’re looking to make it easier for users to customize.” We’ll have to wait and see what materializes, but at least there’s the possibility of more to come from FAST, with developer support.
That said, bike tail lights with FAST’s features are usually way more expensive than what the FAST team is asking. The super early birds were only $15, and the next tier is $19, both of which are pretty good deals on a customizable smart light.
FAST is seeking $20,000, with the Kickstarter campaign set to end October 9, and the early deals/steals are going fast. If there aren’t any of the $15 lights left, consider grabbing a double set for $36. The full price after the campaign is over will be $39 for one light and mount. The FAST comes in black, chrome, and clear, all with the same rainbow LEDS. The lights are set to ship November of this year.