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Kymco's smart scooter combines alerts with a customizable design

Make your speedometer a picture of your cat.
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Smart cars are everywhere. They talk to your phone and your house. In the future they'll even carry on conversations with you and your passengers. But for now automobiles are rolling maps, entertainment centers and charging ports for our connected lifestyles.

Gallery: Kymco Noodoe | 15 Photos

Motorcycles and scooters, on the other hand, have been slow to adopt any smart features. More so than with a car, taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds while riding can be incredibly dangerous. But Taiwanese company Kymco thinks it's found a way to make its scooters smarter without sacrificing safety. The company calls it the Noodoe experience.

Kymco Noodoe: Hands-on

The system adds a round Smart Dashboard to the instrument cluster that replaces the regular speedometer. The display has different widgets that display the speed, time, weather, a compass (which keeps you riding in the right direction while surfacing important locations like gas stations) and notifications from your Bluetooth-connected smartphone.

Kymco says the information is tailored to the riding experience. A quick glance should give you the details you need. Even the most elaborate dashboard, the Compass, is pretty sparse. It resembles a submarine's radar display. To keep you going in the correct direction, the edge of the circle glows in relation to the destination you input into the app instead of showing off a large arrow or street map.

The Compass also shows points of interest and any friends with the NooDoe system that you've added to the app as "blips." What it doesn't have are point-by-point directions, which seems like a missed opportunity. But Kymco says it will probably come out with rider-specific mapping in a later version of the system.

Currently, at least, it offers smartphone notifications. But unlike systems in cars that share info with your eyes or ears as soon as something happens, NooDoe's alerts only appear when the bike is at a complete stop (where allowed by law). Likewise, these notifications disappear once the scooter starts rolling again. And you can't act on those alerts either. The value here is that you have a chance to decide whether it's worth it to pull over and, say, respond to a message.

But to the company Noodoe is more than just connecting a bike to a phone; it wants to give riders the ability to personalize their two-wheel experience. The speedometer and clocks can be customized with your own photos, as well as color schemes and assorted fonts. If you're especially jazzed about one of your creations you can share it in the NooDoe companion app with other users. You can also download creations made by other riders.

The result is what Kymco hopes is a unique experience. That may be true, but what it means for motorcycle and scooter riders is a way to get smart features that make sense for how they get around town that's safer than mounting a smartphone to their handlebars. The NooDoe system is expected to debut in the US on the Like scooter in mid 2017.

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