JUMP TO:

Hands-on: Wahoo adds Specialized ANGi Helmet Sensor Integration

DSC_1476

Wahoo and Specialized have announced a new integration that lets Wahoo users automatically start and stop the Specialized ANGi helmet live tracking and crash detection features, directly from their Wahoo ELEMNT/BOLT/ROAM computers. This integration (as you’ll see), seems more of a first step of how the two companies can work together, rather than the end-state of the relationship.

As you may remember, Specialized acquired ICEdot a long while back (but only announced it a bit over a year ago), and then subsequently released it as ANGi, with options both built into Specialized helmets, as well as a secondary pod you could install on your own helmet. ANGi is essentially a gyro-accelerometer sensor in your helmet that’s been tuned to detect bike crashes (and not have contact false-positives – in my testing over the last year+, it’s done well at that). At release, Specialized included the first year of service, but then asked for an annual fee after that. Users told them to jump off a cliff. Receiving that feedback, Specialized then backtracked on the initial subscription fee. Now if you buy a helmet/sensor, you get the service for free. End of story.

Well, until today. The challenge with the Specialized ANGi implementation is that it was very app-driven. Which is fine if you’re on Instagram, but less so when you just want to start riding. You had to remember to press start on the app each time, in addition to your normal bike computer tracking. Today, that somewhat goes away. Though, as you’ll see – somewhat is the key phrase here. Let’s get into it.

How it works:

So, in order for this adventure to work, you’ll need exactly three things:

1) A Specialized ANGi sensor (helmet or standalone)
2) A Wahoo ELEMNT/BOLT/ROAM GPS bike computer
3) The Specialized Ride app installed on your phone

Oh, and all of those things updated to the latest versions of software and firmware as of today (January 20th, 2020). All of them will have quietly or not-so-quietly (cough, Wahoo) received updates in the last 48hrs or so.  So, for example, you may have to update your ANGi sensor:

2020-01-15 21.41.42 2020-01-15 21.42.54

And you’ll definitely have to update your Wahoo bike computer. Plus the Specialized app has to be updated.  Next, you’ll need to crack open the Specialized Ride app on your phone and select the new option to hook-up with your Wahoo ELEMNT:

2020-01-15 21.40.36 2020-01-15 21.40.53

This actually establishes a direct pairing between the Wahoo bike computer and the Specialized Ride app, via Bluetooth Smart.

2020-01-15 21.41.00 2020-01-15 21.41.03

And with that, you’re basically done on setup. What you just did was, behind the scenes, created a middle-man connection between your helmet and the Wahoo ELEMNT/BOLT/ROAM, via your phone. To be super clear: The ANGi sensor does *not* talk directly to your Wahoo unit. Instead, it talks to the Specialized Ride app, which in turn talks to your Wahoo bike computer.

Ok, with that, let’s go for a ride. The *most important* thing you need to do is ensure the Specialized Ride app is enabled and on, somewhere in the background of your phone. Without this, none of this will work (because, see previous paragraph). You can open it up and ensure it shows both little green checkboxes next to your helmet and Wahoo unit:

2020-01-15 21.43.15

Forget to open the Specialized app? No worries, your Wahoo unit will remind you.

DSC_1462

In fact, it actually pairs the sensor (well, technically the app) as a sensor. And you can actually see the three stages of progress below. The first one shows when no app is opened (so it can’t see the app or sensor), the second shows once the app is connected, but not yet the ANGi sensor to the phone, and the third when both phone and sensor are connected:

DSC_1493 DSC_1494 DSC_1492

Next, press start on your Wahoo bike computer. This will send a message to the Specialized Ride app telling it to start your tracking session. Behind the scenes this does a bunch of things:

A) Starts recording on your Wahoo ELEMNT/BOLT/ROAM like always
B) Starts the live tracking session via the Specialized Ride app, notifies your predefined contacts for normal tracking
C) Is on standby to notify emergency contacts in the event you crash
D) Puts the Specialized App into ‘Ride’ mode, showing you that it’s monitoring via Wahoo

Note that location (GPS) services still comes from the phone, not the ELEMNT in this case. Meaning, it’s still burning your battery on your phone and hasn’t offloaded that piece to your bike computer.

In any case, a few seconds later you’ll receive an activation notification on the Wahoo unit:

DSC_1465

I’ll note that I didn’t always seem to receive this confirmation (such as if my phone wasn’t open), and the timing of this was a bit funky. I think there’s still some optimization work to be done here.

Meanwhile, on the Specialized app, you’ll simply see a timer of your ride – indicating it’s monitoring and connected – with the current ride time:

2020-01-15 21.43.34 IMG_3925

Next, you’re riding along as normal. But perhaps you crash, or just employ a friend to whack your helmet really hard. This is where the whole integration shines best – as it allows you to cancel a notification prompt directly from the Wahoo unit:

DSC_1468

It’ll count-down from 30, create a racket of sounds that sounds like R2D2 and C3PO are being kidnapped, allowing you to cancel at any time.  Oh wait, you wanted that hilarity in video format? No problem, here’s some late night kitchen table antics:

And, in the event you press cancel, you’ll see this:

DSC_1478

If you don’t cancel, it’ll notify your contacts and say as such on the screen. It’s up to you to tell your friends you didn’t actually crash but instead just dropped your helmet somehow. If you did crash though, it’ll give your friends notifications of your location and all the usual ANGi goodness I’ve previously outlined.

Finally, at the end of the ride, it’ll stop the ANGi tracking bit when you stop your Wahoo ride on your ELEMNT/BOLT/ROAM, so you basically don’t have to think about it.  The only challenge I ran into though was a splitting of today’s ride. About mid-way through the ride I opened up the Specialized app to grab a screen-shot, and it appeared to awaken from a paused state, stumbled over itself, and then resumed the tracking. But in doing so it split the tracking of the ride into two pieces. So my pre-defined contacts actually got two portions of the ride.

IMG_3953 IMG_3951

This didn’t impact the Wahoo recording at all, but it’s still not entirely ideal. I suspect they’ll dig into this and let me know what’s up in due course. But it’s 2AM Specialized time, so…yeah.

Note on pricing, while Specialized only requires a one-time purchase of the pod in order to enable the free subscription, that pod isn’t transferrable to other people. While that’s probably a minor use case, it’s something worthwhile noting.

Wrap-Up:

DSC_1480

Overall, I like this integration. Or at least, I like where it’s going. I think it’s a very solid first step, but I’d like to see some of the moving parts removed. I think the ANGi crash detection sensor and platform is really strong. By moving the crash detection from the handlebars to your head, it minimizes the false-positives significantly (compared to the Garmin crash detection for example). Remember that for most sensors it’s a combination of not just g-forces, but velocity as well. In the case of a bike computer acting as a crash detection device it looks for normal speed, followed by zero speed combined with a high g-force event. Whereas with a helmet, speed doesn’t much matter because they assume any high-impact event to your head isn’t ideal.

So, the sensor tech is good – but the achilleas heel of the Specialized solution has always been the software. While well done, it was just too many steps. And this seems to remove some of those steps (namely, opening the app and pressing start). However, I still think it’s too many steps. Right now you’ve got duplicate Wahoo and Specialized Live Tracking now. It’s pretty darn likely someone will have the Wahoo app open in the background (so that post-ride stuff syncs automatically in the event WiFi isn’t nearby). I’d like to see Specialized just leverage that directly.

That’d also have the benefit of reducing battery burn waste on your phone, because the Specialized app is tracking via GPS the entire time there. The Wahoo device already does that with its own onboard GPS – so might as well use that for tracking (as Garmin does in their live tracking platform). Then behind the scenes Wahoo and Specialized could deal with any notifications. Again, just like the Strava Beacon and Garmin tracking integration works.

Like I said earlier on – good stuff, and a really good start. It’ll benefit users today. I’m just looking forward to where this could go in a year.

With that – thanks for reading!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture

*

30 Comments

  1. Dr_LHA

    All this stuff is really cool, but the sad fact is that where I live (in Pennsylvania) once I ride 5 miles out of town I more often as not have no cell phone reception, despite there being plenty of people living out there. On a long ride (say, 40 miles or more), I would guess I have cell reception maybe 30% of the time, being generous.

    None of this is the fault of Specialized of course. I’m just moaning.

    • A good example of where something like the Garmin inReach could be really powerful with complete failover live tracking between cellular services (cheap/effectively free), and satellite services (rather expensive). Right now you basically start inReach as a standalone thing. There’s no meaingful tie-in at the activity level (though, there is at least a new widget for it, so that’s cool).

      Someday, I hope it’s just connectivity agnostic, simply using whatever channel is active and chepeast first.

    • Chris Capoccia

      Try riding in the National Radio Quiet Zone (large around the radio telescope in West Virginia). You can’t walk that close to the telescope unless you leave all your personal electronics behind and they only use diesel vehicles on the telescope campus because even spark plugs would mess with the telescope. I got in a nice solo ride through there this past summer. There was a little piece around Marlinton with cell service and that was about it for the whole day. I had a printed map/route plan and saved the area in Google offline maps link to strava.com

    • JD

      Nice looking loop. No shoulders, but I assume it’s low traffic?
      What were the out and back legs about?

      As far as the tech goes, it seems the device or app should cache your live tracking/incident detection data and upload any gaps whenever a cellular connection resumes.
      Sure you could crash and die out in the middle of nowhere, but when your remains are found in the Spring after the snow melts they’ll at least have the data(!!!). Your last ride will get properly synched on Strava. 🙂 Strava could even add a new feature — Obits of Data aka My Last Ride.

    • Chris Capoccia

      The spurs on my route were mostly accidental wrong turns. traffic was similar to a lot of rural roads, mostly lower traffic volume. I rode in the lane instead of the shoulder and cars drove around me without a problem.

    • AndrewC123

      Ray, while I completely agree with you, this is a classic case of “want creep”, where a feature whose mere existence would have blown us away 10 years ago, now elicits a “this is nice, but you know what would *really* be great?? If it could also…” 😅

    • True. But, I think it’s also proper integration. Garmin bought Delorme for their satellite tech. With the rise of gravel bikes globally, it’s such a natural integration – both from a tech standpoint, but also from Garmin’s upsell standpoint.

  2. Dwaine Brooks

    Phone at start of ride 100%…phone after 2hrs…5%, 4hr ride…dead! So if we go on a 4hr ride we should hope to crash in the first 2hrs? Coz anything after that with a phone being connected to everything under the sun nowadays you dont get much battery life.

    Why does the ANGI have to be connected to the phone? Why can it not be connect to the cycling computer and only in the case of an incident then talk to the device and it to your phone etc

    • Leo

      What phone is this? I have my phone sending live tracking info from wahoo etc. and can easily go on 5+ hour rides without running out of battery. I have a Pixel 4XL but am pretty confident that any recent iPhone should be able to do the same.

    • Dr_LHA

      Not my experience at all. I’ve ridden 100+ mile rides using my mobile to track my GPS (before I got a bike computer), and still ended up with 40-50% battery at the end. As long as the screen was off.

    • Dwaine

      To be honest my comment was a little exaggerated but I will say this…

      iPhone XS, battery health on 90%, all app locations set to never (so no gps running on phone at all). I do pair my phone to my Edge 830 (so messages can come through but hardly do)

      On a 2.5hr ride starting phone on 100% I will get home on 25% 🤷🏼‍♂️

    • Paul S.

      How’s the cell service in your area? Phones will up their power in an attempt to stay connected. Whenever I ride in the local mountains with no cell service, my phone (nowadays an iPhone 11 Pro) always takes a hit on battery life.

  3. Nick

    Ray
    Will Garmin do the same for their Edge units? Or is this exclusively a Specialized/Wahoo thing only?

    • Exclusively a Wahoo/Specialized thing at this point. Certainly they could do some form of hook-up with Garmin, which I think would actually bring a fair bit of value in the form of a Connect IQ app/widget on the Edge series.

  4. Matthew

    Ray,

    So does this mean you need to allow the Specialized app to always be able to use your location? If so, that is really poor from a privacy standpoint.

  5. Ivan Dobski

    As an Angi/Wahoo user I was quite interested in seeing this but in reality it’s a bit underwhelming. It won’t really improve my “work flow”, in fact the only real benefit is being able to cancel the alert from the Roam rather than digging my phone out.

    • Agree mostly. Though I think the warning message as well that you forgot to start/run the Specialized App is actually valuable.

    • Wahoo Murray

      If you just allow the Ride app to background (don’t force close) then you don’t need to touch your phone for any reason, when you turn on your ELEMNT and start your workout, the Ride app will automatically start tracking.

  6. MidTNBrad

    I’ve not heard of the Angi before but it sounds like a perfect product for me. I was diagnosed with epilepsy last September and have been unable to drive or ride my bike since then. I’m hoping the Dr. gives me the all clear in March (now that I’m on medication) and hope to get back on the bike shortly thereafter. I know my wife would love the peace of mind that the Angi provides and I already have a Bolt.

    A look through Specialized’s web site shows that the Angi has had less than stellar reviews most of them saying that it doesn’t work as advertised and/or the app keeps dropping. Has anyone else had these issues?

  7. Patrick

    seems like a step in the right direction… the need to start and stop recording on the specialized app means that i just don’t make use of my angi. i have absolutely no interest in recording my ride there when it already goes on strava from my bike computer. also i don’t want to have to pull my phone out in case of a false alarm.

    unfortunately i am a garmin user so am stuck with just their crash detection which gives a number of false alarms but at least it is inherently active whenever i ride and can be cancelled without stopping riding or even losing significant focus on what i’m doing.

    specialized need to recognize where they can and can’t add value (hint, yet another ride recording app is not it!) and enable garmin integration to get people really valueing angi. would be interesting to see whether garmin would regard that as muscling in on their feature but with CIQ they don’t necessarily need to be involved

    • Patrick

      just re-read the original angi review from november 2018.
      as usual, Ray pointed out the issue right from the start:

      “Which in some ways is my only challenge with it. While great for recreational riders, many more experienced riders are going to ride with dedicated bike computers (Garmin/Wahoo/Lezyne/etc…). For that, many of us don’t want yet another app to remember to start and then causing GPS drain on our phones. This seems like precisely the type of thing they could have partnered with Garmin and Wahoo on and captured 99% of the market. For example, Garmin’s Connect IQ platform could have allowed a connection to the sensor, and then leveraged the Garmin itself for GPS. Thus no battery drain on your phone. It’d also have meant that the second you start your ride, the sensor starts working. No extra apps. On the flip side, Garmin’s device to phone app tracking system isn’t exactly known for being the most stable either.”

  8. iNaomi

    As one of the early ICE dot users, Angi has had significant improvements (after initial pricing feedback as discussed).
    The “fit” on non-Specialized helmets is unfortunately not clean, requiring creative zip ties to avoid locking you to their helmet range.
    Good tech that hopefully will continue to develop integration and display on other devices now it has a larger backer than ICE.
    Your significant other will sleep better at 4am on Sundays if you use this tech 🙂

    • Ivan Dobski

      I use industrial velcro on mine so can move it between several helmets. Works perfectly and takes no time at all to swap.

  9. Denzyl

    Hi, this is great news indeed! Is the ANGI/Wahoo intergration now compatible with Android devices as well?

  10. Brian

    Any chance that Specialized creates a cellular Apple Watch version of the app that would use a cellular Apple Watch to send the alert? It would be nice to leave my phone at home.

  11. Mike

    I guess if you have a Wahoo this is good, but it is on my Edge which worked great when I had a crash, if I brake very hard I do get false alerts on the Edge, but I would rather it be over sensitive rather than miss something…. personally I would prefer Wahoo to build it into their computer like Garmin, this is just another “something” to buy, link together, fail etc. etc. etc.

  12. Danny Bishop

    This has stuffed my Angi completely. The ride app tells me I have to update the firmware, but the process never completes. First time I waited about 50 minutes. I’ve tried a bunch of times, but essentially it won’t let me start a ride until I update and it never completes the update. Specialized are yet to help.