Six ways Google Glass could change cycling forever

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 3:58pm
Category: News

Six ways Google Glass could change cycling forever
The pinnacle of gadget geekery and a hot topic amongst privacy activists, there’s no doubt that the release of Google’s Glass technology captured the world’s imagination like nothing else before.

[Update: a second generation Glass has been released – read about it here]

If you’re not familiar with it (where have you been?) Google Glass is simply a piece of eyewear with a built-in computer and a display attached to it. It’s pretty futuristic stuff, with its apps and controls either voice activated, swipe controlled or manipulated by head movements including nods and shakes.

Here's a little mock-up we put together of a first generation pair of cycling-specific Google Glasses.

Whether Google’s computerised eyewear will end up the same way as the Sinclair C5 or the much ridiculed Segway is yet to be seen, but for now we’ve come up with our own set of cycling-specific uses that might not be too far away.

Maybe one of the few software developers who’s paid $1,500 for the ‘Explorer Edition’ Google Glass is, as we speak, developing the very apps cyclists will come to take for granted in the future…or maybe they’ll look back at this article and wonder whether we were on the same stuff as Lance Armstrong and co…


No longer will you be caught out by worn parts, incorrect setup or any other running problems. Google Glass will auto-scan your bike every time it sees it, picking out any faults and allowing you to automatically order replacements in a click. If there’s an updated version of your bike it’ll let you view that too – same with all the parts, so if you’re running the old-style RockShox Pike on there, you can take a look at the all-new model.

Photography and video

Wave goodbye to bulky helmet cameras, there’s a new boy in town. With Google Glass not only will you be able to do all the standard stuff including recording in HD and taking snaps of your on-bike fun at the uttering of the words ‘take picture’, but it’ll also detect your location and give you the option to see how other people have ridden the bit of trail or road you’re on. Stood at the side of the famous motorway section of Fort William’s downhill course? Why not watch how Steve Peat tackled it at the 2013 MTB World Cup. Looking up at Mount Ventoux’s famous peak climb? See how Pantani won it in 2000.

Linking up with social network sites like Google+, Facebook and Twitter, Google Glass will allow your friends to experience any ride you choose, giving them a front row seat when you’re taking on a rocky descent or covering the miles on a charity ride.

Skills coaching

It’s hard to beat a bit of one-on-one skills coaching, but with Google Glass you’ll always have the ability to call on help to tackle an obstacle, tricky corner or sketchy line. Don’t worry, there won’t be any typing into Google or YouTube – the glasses will detect what you’re looking at and give you multimedia options to guide you through the skill. Text, video, images and sound will help you nail it.

Medical emergencies

Injuries are an inevitable part of bike riding, so to have instant medical assessment and advice on-the-fly could be a life saver (literally maybe). Google Glass will assess the fallen rider for injuries and do its best to offer the best advice – whether that’s the immediate steps to deal with a broken ankle or directions to the nearest hospital. There’ll also be the option to watch video on how best to stabilise the patient.

Contextual sat nav

It’s pretty much a given that Google Glass will be able to guide you through all your rides, displaying your heart rate, speed, cadence etc but it’ll also be constantly scanning the surface you’re riding, picking up on any road obstacles and warning you, as well as the likes of potholes and raised manholes – with the swipe of the glasses you’ll be able to inform the local authority. A built-in Strava or Garmin Connect-like system will display a ghost rider of yourself or the fastest person on a section – so you know before you log on to a PC whether you’re at the top of the leaderboards!


Close to the heart of Chain Reaction Cycles, this one will save a lot of post-ride hassle and possibly save you some on-ride embarrassment. The example above shows a ripped tyre, which you can replace in a swipe, but the possibilities are endless – allowing you to seek out the latest clothing styles, the most up-to-date component upgrades or simply to point your Glass at a friend’s bike and tell Google Glass ‘Want that one!’ 

We're interested to get your take on this new technology – do you think it'll become part of normal life in the future, or will it remain the reserve of the techy few? Leave your comments below.

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