Varia Radar -- Disappointing design choices - visual vs mute, toggle tap target issues
The Varia Radar user interface choices on the Karoo2 are maddening (for me.)
Most of my riding is in pretty big and pretty fast group rides. Like silencing your cell phone from every notification, everyone silences their head units. It just understood. It's polite.
Muting Radar turns off the visual radar. But visual radar is why I own it! The radar visual shows the number, spacing, and distance of cars behind me. It's quite amazing that it works so well.
(UPDATE --Turning the radar audio alerts off and keeping the radar visual is possible. From the Setting menu, or mid-ride from the Audio Alerts Icon (long press) in the dropdown panel is accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen (twice, to get the extended panel.)
Toggling the radar icon mute/unmute is very challenging with gloves on. For three to four months of the year (in the Washington DC area) we have to wear gloves. Often thicker winter gloves. The touch target for this feature is tiny -- likely, only the size of the radar icon in the status bar. Using this icon as an "indicator" was clever but only usable under very ideal conditions.
Usability - barely usable under ideal conditions. Impossible to use if the screen is wet, the road is bumpy, or the user is wearing gloves.
- If an onscreen toggle is used for radar control, please look for a solution that works under common riding conditions. (The entire rest of the screen does NOTHING on press events, only swipe events. (yes event bubbling for registered listeners can get tricky in android)
Supports multiple customer needs. I suspect no actual riders were consulted in this feature design. Design spec made sense in a vacuum.
- Please allow Visual radar to be used with or without audio alerts
✅ - marketing feature specs - meets marketing claims and feature comparisons lists
- I understand that even tiny features can become very complicated. But they are not complex.
Please ask your designers to perform functional tests under real-world conditions while designing these features. This is one of many, based on customer profiles... (this one is mine)
- Leave for the group ride a bit too late and ride 3-5 miles solo on busy streets to get to meet up point:
-- turn the Karoo2 on while clipping in, or maybe 500m into the ride
-- desired setup -- radar visual on, audio on, tail light in a high visibility state, connect to phone while riding to see last-minute excuses from people asking to wait 5 extra minutes
- Roll out with the group and then realize you need to be group ride configuration
-- Karoo2 is auto-paused and needs to be woken up
-- desired setup - shut off radar alerts (keep others), set tail light to low/steady, load the route even though you know it -- the profile is always nice to see.
- Avoid all potholes, and your buddy's back wheel. Don't crash.
- While wearing gloves.
- While it's raining.
- While it's windy and you have deep rim wheels today.
- While you're 45+ and ride with cycling glasses with readers in them
- While you're wearing glasses you tried wiping the sweat off of using a sweaty jersey and just smeared everything around a bit.
- Stretch Goals - Load route from the Strava link your buddy just texted you (or the route you created last night but didn't sync while at home) -- while riding.
- While riding back home, you are now "off-route" and Karoo2 lets you know. Cancel the map routing.
Do this 2 - 4 days a week.
Come ride with me anytime!
I have not received my K2 yet, I will def be looking to hook my Radar up to it, and would expect to have similar or better results than the G530 it's currently hooked up to. Why? Because they should at min copy the functionality and try and do better...that's why K2 is evolving, correct? They are a go getter, quick acting software company that is taking the market by storm :)
But to their defense, I'm not sure I've ever done any muting on my 530 for the occasional beeps while in a group ride getting notified there are cars coming up. I personally like the beeps and now the ALL clear beep too. I would not mute it....but to have that option certainly shouldn't turn off the entire functionality of the unit, mute to me means AUDIO, DISABLE means no functionality. Hopefully if they have a mute option they will make it just AUDIO...which I'm sure for many might be a nice addition (not sure you can do that on Garmin...haven't looked)
Anyway, hope I'm not super disappointed with things like this....I've waited to get the K2 for a bit now...thinking they've listened to users and got the kinks worked out so to speak on many, many things.... I will not hesitate to get my 45 day return, and then check back in another year....
@Seth -- The Varia Radar design choice is:
- If the user doesn't want to hear the alert,
- Then they don't want to see the full visual radar experience
They did make a very interesting (and innovative) design that a status bar icon could be a substitute. It can show if it's clear (green), slow-approaching cars (yellow), and fast-approaching cars (red). It's "one-touch togglable" between modes. It's an interesting idea. The trade-offs are:
- It hides valuable information (how many cars, how far away) (fact)
- it is not very "glace-able." Especially in real-world situations (opinion)
- toggling is barely functional under ideal conditions (opinion)
The Varia design choice is one of many that might be very different if Hammerhead shifted to an experience design mindset, and away from interface design. This is a bigger jump than folks realize.
I really want this product to succeed. It is so close.
@edgarkarel -- question. In all of the places the radar audio alert can be toggled on/off, it will also toggle the visual radar model along with it.
You can get to the radar's audio alerts settings in three places:
- The Home screen allows selecting Apps / Settings / Audio Alerts
The "Quick Settings Menu" is accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen. Pulling down a second time will show the Expand Quick Settings menu, with the Audio Alerts icon providing two options:
(1) One-touch toggles ALL alerts.
(2) Long pressing the icon will show the full control screen, where radar is one of the options
- The Status Bar floating on the top of the screen shows the innovative "Super Dot" radar indicator. This icon is smaller than the font used for the ride time and current time values shown on the status bar. Touch the Super Dot will also toggle the audio/visual alerts.
I'll post some #KarooRaves to go balance out where I feel there is are #KarooImprovement (to existing feature) or #KarooNewFeature. Oftentimes forums like this are the collection point of only the complaints & frustrations and we forget about all the things that are so good and exciting about where they might be able to take this product.
This topic is carrying a (-1) -- So am may be the only one who finds this behavior limiting and am lobbying for it in a way that appears to be offensive. No offense intended.
In today's group ride we had one of the "fierce Jrs" take off early on the first climb, putting everyone under pressure. In a tightly packed group, standing, and "looking at my stem" (Chris Froome meme) to check traffic, I'm trying to find and make out the subtle color shades (white, green, yellow, red) of the innovative super radar dot. The entire icon background is not colored, just the thin lines of the icon against a black
Here is the icon for reference (not in mute mode and no traffic spotted)
Not sure what's up with the Ride Time field 🤷♂️
Dan, I'm not a use yet, *hopefully today mine comes in* but am I seeing the DOT in the upper left screen as the only RADAR notice...and it changes different colors depending on cars? Or is there another mode you can have the radar/K2 in and get a much more informative display? If this is the only display, I would be terribly disappointed in "radar integration" If this is somehow the muted mode I could see that being "ok", but yes could use some slight improvements for usability.
Agreed on forums being typically for private disappointment. I will always PRAISE a product publicly on my channels if they are worthy.
Trey, the tiny little icon is the radar display when muted. The normal radar display behavior is shown in this article and includes both visual and audio alerts.
Trey, I've had mine for 2 months and it works seamlessly. Some of my riding is on multiple-lane roads and it would be nice to see an indication of which lane the vehicle is in but that's not something Hammerhead can modify, only Garmin, if ever
Dan, I humbly suggest you try brevity when posting. I believe it will be more effective with making your point. You are correct to ask for separation of audio and visual alerts.
I have another question: Why do you use the Varia in group rides, unless you're the last in a pace line? If not, do you get false positives or false negatives mid-pack?
Thanks for the additional info Bob L. That would be what I would expect for integration on the K2. This is good news. I think it would be nice to have somewhat of an in between option as original poster mentions. Having the Audio Beeps disabled, but have the full sidebar color screen representation available....and then for some....maybe just the icon at the top. Seems this woud be better integration than the original mfg of said unit...and that's a good thing.
Seth, I ride with radar on EVERY ride. It serves as my tail light and also gives me a headsup on group rides for cars. Very rarly do I get a false positive....and If I do, it shows as a car that is not approaching....and then goes away. But even in very large rides of 15-20 and I'm near front, all is good. It's nice to be able to call out PASSING for a car, or CAR BACK for the group. Garmin seems to have really done some nice things to figure out what's there and communicate that through there data points, for vendors like HH to implement how they wish.
You're most welcome Trey. This past summer has been my first with the Varia and like you I simply don't ride without it. I use it with a single-side Bluetooth earpiece so I don't have to try to hear alerts over road noise or bother other riders with constant beeps and it works great except for a known bug that I've been providing ride data to HH for investigation. FWIW, the BLE audio connection simply stops randomly, unannounced in any way, while the radar display continues to function.Of course the non-requirement to constantly glance down at the display when the audio cues are working is taken away. Cycling the BLE audio itself (on the K2 settings screen) off/on clears the problem but until you notice cars passing with no audible warning it's quite dangerous to "assume" nothing is approaching simply because there have been no beeps in the earpiece. Unfortunately when the BLE audio does fail the radar alerts do not return to the built-in audio transducer in the head unit, so it's visual only until recycled.
@seth -- I don't disagree. My point is really that one design doesn't always fit all use cases.
The Varia does pick up cars shockingly well from any place in the group. Riders behind me will often comment that they know when cars are approaching by watching the Varia light blink rate on my bike as the cars approach.
I never want get into a "vendor XYZ has it, so the karoo should have it." Innovation doesn't come from copying feature lists and then having one more. There should be a mindset/philosophy that integrates all the features together to meet the "customer experience." The Dev team might be at one phase of building up the feature set...and the marketing team can be on a completely different page trying to attract people based on market info. I haven't figured out who Hammerhead's target markets are yet. ('everyone' is a bad answer. this often leads to 'no one well enough')
Bob, that doesn't sound good for the audio to just drop out wo notice. I saw a video regarding this happening to the Assioma pedals, and it turned out there was a 5 min timeout by default that HH couldn't do anything about....so by changing that setting inside the pedals they wouldn't go to sleep. No clue if it could relate to your wearable. But you may check it out. Hope that get's addressed for you. I love my Bone Conduction headphones. They allow me to hear everything naturally, and have a little music in the background while riding. Doesn't matte what side of a dual pace line I'm in...can carry a conversation and have the music too!
Thanks for that tidbit about the Assioma pedal timeout problem Trey, that's very interesting indeed. Sadly being in the Great Lakes area of Ontario, Canada we're very quickly slipping into full-on winter weather and that means the situation will be squarely in Hammerhead's hands to root out. You bring up an interesting point in that when we all use other supplier's products (sensors, PCS phones, headphones etc.) we open up potential cracks in compatibility and stability which, unless it can be 100% proven the K2 itself is the culprit, the customer (me in this case) could end up trying 2, 3 or more different BLE products to attempt to isolate the offending device or connection. But, that's a moot point now as it could be 5 months before it's decent enough outdoors to even think about returning to riding off the trainer and on the open road.
No biggie for me, I ride with Aeropex Aftershokz, normally music or a podcast, paired to side loaded Spotify on the K2 (Aeropex paired as headphones on the K2), the Varia alerts are beeped into the headphones, works a treat, you can just pair the Aeropex to to K2 and just get Radar alerts. I would really like different tones for Radar and phone alerts though, still waiting on that one.
@dan you appear to have an isolated problem, very weird, as I have full visibility of the sidebar and the option to turn audio alerts on and off without affecting visual varia info... It has been like this since for as long as I can remember. I ride with audio alerts off in the city - too busy and it is going off all the time, and alerts on in the country.
@mark -- That is odd. Mine behaves exactly the way this Varia Radar integration posting describes.
If you ride in big fast groups I assume you don't spend much time looking down at the Karoo 2. Could it be that you just haven't noticed how it works. The side bar does completely disappear when nothing is approaching from behind. The only change with the icon is if it is pressed to disable the radar display it will have a diagonal line thru it. When paused the whole top bar turns yellow making the icon appear different. But other than that the icon doesn't change any.
@edgar I thought I was going mad! This is it, I’ve always only ever muted the audio. Not sure why I’d want to mute the radar entirely. Might as well not connect the varia.
@dan what Edgar said! I only want to mute the audio, and I still have an active radar. This has always been the case.
@edgar - maybe I've missed this!! I see in the Audio Alerts page in Settings that I can turn Radar Audio on/off independently from all other audio alerts.
I am THRILLED to say that I'm wrong. sitting in my car today with my Varia out the window and trying all the options:
If the radar audio alert is switched off in Audio settings -- the radar will be muted AND the display will stay on. SWEET!
(WRONG) -- Changing the radar alert in settings has the same effect for me -- removing the visual alert and switching to just the icon. Is this working differently for you?
Yep -- the overlay is completely removed there is nothing to show - nice that it doesn't lose any horizontal real estate when "idle."
@Denny - exactly!! You only get a fraction of a second to look down at the head unit. I can pick out things like heart rate and power as long as I've memorized where they are (usually the top two items for me.) Any more time than that and you may get your front wheel taken out.
Very funny: Chris Froome Looking at Stems
SOLVED - Using Setting / Audio Alerts / Radar Audio -- will toggle on/off the radar audio alerts and not the visual display.
This setting can be accessed from the Setting menu before riding, and mid-ride from the Setting Icon (long press!) in the panel accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen (twice, to get the extended panel.)
The "super dot" radar indicator is an interesting and innovative feature that has its own mute behavior, and it does remove the visual indicator when enabled.
I would prefer to have a one-touch mute without affecting the visualization on screen.
Still find the icon touch target event is extremely challenging with even the thinnest gloves on.
IKR -- @Edgar was right. I was testing it on ride and not where I had more time to carefully verify each of the options. Setting the Radar Alerts off, then looking back on the screen will the "super dot" turned mute has no effect -- still no visuals.
I love the onscreen one-touch toggle to mute (even though it is challenging to use consistently.) The idea was definitely right. I wish it was for the Radar Audio toggle and not just the "super dot" feature.
I still stand by my comment on the need for field testing.
Lights and warnings should be binary, ON/OFF not puzzles to explore while riding.
Yes, almost all of the answers are there, often well presented
No, The info is often scattered about, often not clear , indexed and linked well.
The modular model let's them update , and edit but it lacks a smooth UX. bigly
A lot of the same questions popup repeatedly
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