What is HindSight? How do rear view cycling glasses work? Will my forward vision be impaired?

We hear these questions and others like them quite often. We’d like to help answer some of your most frequently asked questions about HindSight below.

We love being a part of a community that always wants to know more and always wants to get better. We love asking questions, so we enjoy seeing all the questions that people have for us on our social media. We try to tackle many questions that have short, quick answers in the comments as often as possible, and we’ve even done a Q&A on Reddit to answer bigger questions that come up. But, we also see a lot of questions where the answer would fall in between; too complex for a short comment, but not enough to carry an entire post.

We’ve got a lot of great questions from the community since the start of our Kickstarter campaign. Now, we’re going to answer them.

1. Do we have any future plans for offering HindSight rear view cycling glasses with photochromic lenses for functionality in multiple lighting conditions?

Photochromatic lenses are an interesting one, many cyclists find them a little difficult to use because of slow transitions speeds – they often stay dark for too long when going into the shade, for example. We’re launching with darkened lenses initially, but we are definitely exploring everything weird and wonderful when it comes to lenses, so watch this space!

2. Will there be a prescription lens version?

Unfortunately, we cannot yet cater to those who require prescription lenses, our lens technology is more complex than a standard lens, but we are working on it!
In the meantime, we have had several prescription lens wearers try our glasses by using contact lenses, and they have found the utility of them so great that they opted to switch to contacts while cycling just to use them! That won’t be the case for everyone of course, but just to let you know the glasses have been tried by some folk with prescription and they loved them.

3. Is glare a problem with bright LED lights when you are in a lower light environment?

Car headlights are something we spent a good bit of time addressing – the angled lenses don’t show directly behind you by default, but allow you to see behind by turning your head 5-10 degrees. Unless you choose to turn your head to look at the car, it won’t be in your field of view or present in your mirror.
The mirrors are also mostly transparent, meaning they don’t reflect anything like 100% of the light. In the rare case of the incident light, you’d get a fraction of the light you’d get from, say, a car rear view mirror.

4. How are these different from the “see behind you” glasses you could order out of the back of any boys magazine in the 70s or 90s, other than being built out of a nicer material?

We get this one a lot. ‘Spy glasses’ do allow for some level of rear vision, but they are simply toys, and could be actively dangerous if used in a cycling situation.

HindSight glasses, in contrast, are real sunglasses, built to sports safety standards with proper lenses and build quality. We use nylon lenses for safety and eye protection, and special sports resistant housing to keep your eyes safe. HindSight’s mirrors are mostly transparent (unlike ‘spy glasses’), meaning cyclists can actively choose where and when to look when checking behind, and this also means the front-facing vision isn’t impaired while looking ahead.
We also designed our patent-pending angled lens specifically to provide the mathematically optimised angle for rear vision, allowing our glasses to be much less ‘straight’ fronted than other rear view glasses while providing a much better rear field of view.
All in all, our glasses are custom built for cycling, not party tricks!

5. The mirrors placement makes me wonder what chance there is of confusion between front and back images, and whether this has been tested?

The experience of our testers indicates that it comes naturally to differentiate between front and back images. It’s quite natural for your eyes to focus on the relevant image in the same way they would in relation to perspective. It’s actually very intuitive – we’ve had people who barely cycle learn how to use the glasses effectively after 20m of cycling, they were able to tell us how many fingers we held up from a 10m distance cycling behind them!

Regarding eye strain – we’ve done a lot of testing and never noticed any. The mirrors are designed to be within the average ‘comfortable’ eye range, meaning that there shouldn’t be any more strain than there would be checking out a road sign.

Regarding focus switching – again, none we have picked up on. It’s similar to when you look at your hands on the keyboard, then back at a computer screen, barely any focus change. Most things you’ll be focussing on will be relatively far away, so your eyes never focus on the mirror itself, only what’s reflected in it, and therefore respond based on how far away that thing is.

6. It sounds like a very basic idea and I’m surprised this product doesn’t already have widespread adoption among cyclist, what was your journey like to product?

The journey was a difficult one as our lenses are entirely unique; finding people able to make them for us was extremely challenging. Many lens manufacturers simply couldn’t build the lenses we needed! We persevered until we found some partners as willing to push the envelope as we are, and luckily we’re in a position where we can now deliver.

There are quite a few rear view mirrors for cyclists out there, elbow mounts, helmet mounts, handlebar mounts, but none of them really worked well enough for us – the field of view was too small, too distorted, or they just didn’t look good. We wanted to create something which fit well into a cyclist’s lifestyle, and something that delivered the best possible rear vision. And we did it!

7. What do you see as the government’s responsibility for cycling safety? Are they doing enough?

We think many governments view cyclists, pedestrians, public transport, basically everything besides the motorist as the “poor relation” to the car. As with many things in politics, it would be great if we could have rational, evidence-led discussions about transport. Cycling has so many positives for society from increased life expectancy, to better air quality, lower road maintenance costs… the list goes on and on. Fundamentally, the biggest stumbling block for new cyclists are concerns about safety.
We think we can be part of that solution given the current realities we are faced with. Information is power, and when cyclists are properly informed of threats around them, we hope to see more people on their bikes. Governments seem to be slowly waking up to the future being pedal-powered, especially as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, independent mobility is king.

8. Why did we create a HEMP version?

Being part of a values-driven organisation is very important to us. Hemp is a sustainable and environmentally friendly material. Functionally, it also has some fantastic properties relating to its strength and durability.

9. Can you explain how you’re able to see behind and ahead?

The rear vision is accomplished with an integrated rear-view mirror, built directly into the lens. We developed and built a mathematical model based on cyclists head movements and things like comfortable ranges of eye movement, and used that to analyse the best possible placement for our mirrors – we wanted something which was visible when the rider wanted to see it and wasn’t a distraction when they were looking ahead. The mirrors are mostly transparent too, which allows the cyclist to choose where their focus lies, whether that’s ahead or behind, without distraction.

Once we had our optimal mirror placement, we built the glasses around them!

Your Turn: Ask HindSight

We’d love for this blog to be successful, and provide a valuable repository of answers for our entire community and cyclists everywhere. To do that, we need your help.

Here’s what you can do to get involved:

1. Ask questions. Post them in the comments of this post, or Tweet them to us at @gohindsight

2. Follow us on social media: If you have anything to add or share regarding any of the questions asked, jump in! Follow us on Facebook (@gohindsight), Instagram (@gohindsight), or Twitter (@gohindsight) where you can ask us anything about our rear view cycling glasses.