There are lots of ways of getting warnings and alerts while you’re on the move right now. In fact, some say that many new cars feature far too many bings, bongs and beeps for their own good. Fancy some more of that? Well, Ooono (or OOONO as the Danish company behind it likes to style things) is a new gadget that does just that – it gives audible and visual alerts about speed cameras and traffic hazards as you head on down the road.
I’ve just been trying the Ooono Co-Driver 1 edition, although somewhat curiously, Ooono is releasing the Co-Driver 1 and also the updated Co-Driver 2 at roughly the same time. The Co-Driver 2 is an enhanced model with additional functions, which means it’s also going to be slightly more expensive. The Co-Driver 1 that I’ve been living with is a handy starting point and arrives in a slender cardboard box.
Inside, there’s a small circular plastic disc (3 x 3 x 1 cm and weighing 20 grams) that is the Ooono unit itself, complete with 3M sticky pads on the back so that you can mount it where you like. That’s about it, save for the fact that you also need to download the Ooono app, available for both Apple and Android and pair your devices via Bluetooth. Anyone who’s done anything like that before will find it a cinch to get set up and running.
Personally, I think you might be better off purchasing one of the best dash cam models out there, but let's see how I've been getting on with the Ooono Co-Driver 1...
I got my Ooono up and running within the space of about five minutes, so it’s quick and easy to do. The supporting app allows you to use either default settings, or you can configure it so that your phone gives out fewer notifications if you’re looking for less fussing in the background from your phone.
I placed the Ooono itself down in the central storage area of the car I was driving that week – it beeps and flashes green when it’s configured and ready to go.
Once you’ve done this, the Ooono also starts to operate each time you get in the car, so there’s no additional work after it’s been set up – unless you want to tweak any of the settings obviously. Again, this is all done via the app as there are no working parts on the Ooono as such. That said, you do press it one or twice during the configuration during the step-by-step configuration process with your phone.
In fact, it’s this part of the Ooono that is, perhaps, where the magic happens as you can report speed cameras by pressing/clicking it once or with a double-press/click for other hazards. Doing this subsequently adds your update to Ooono’s database, which is claimed to include data supplied by upwards of 5 million other drivers.
Whilst I like the thinking behind the Ooono, the reality of living with it is a little different. Initially, I was happy with the beeps that would notify me of fixed speed cameras in my local area, most of which I knew already existed. However, I also tried it on a 360-mile round trip and the Ooono proved less useful. Maybe the Ooono’s core ownership is in Europe because I didn’t seem to get much in the way of updates about mobile cameras and hazards here in the UK.
If I’m on a run, I invariably look to Google Maps for my main travel information, mainly because it usually suits my requirements. It’s handy too as there are often mobile speed camera warnings along my route. I imagined the Ooono would be a handy supplement to this, but aside from fixed speed camera locations, it seemed less forthcoming with other data. Maybe it needs more people to come on board with it here in the UK?
Another issue is the way it interacts with my phone. I ended up turning all of the notifications off as it was getting annoying and made do with the audible beeps from the Ooono unit itself. This also had a knock-on effect on battery life, which is never a good thing, even if you’ve got your phone plugged into the in-car power sockets.
It’s a nice idea and everything, but in my experience really doesn’t seem to improve on what already exists from the likes of Google Maps and Waze. Maybe Ooono Driver-2 will address some of these issues? Either way, the original unit costs €49 or £44.99 here in the UK, which isn’t a lot and certainly less than a speeding fine, but seems expensive for something that ultimately will end up being chucked away when the battery dies.
That said, there is a replaceable CR2450 battery inside and Ooono suggests it’ll last for around 12 months or 30,000km so it’s not all bad. It’s just not all good either…