Bicycle of the future heralds smart-tech era


  • Date 18 Dec 2012
  • Sectors Technology

The concept of internet-connected devices that collect data and communicate – known as the ‘Internet of Things’ – is ripe for the next disruptive technology. The potential of this emerging market is vast, with an estimated 50 billion devices expected to be connected by 2020. The wireless bicycle is an attempt to bring this smart-tech future to life today.

In designing the demonstration device, the experts at Cambridge Consultants took a standard bicycle – equipped with an electronic gear-changing system – and wirelessly linked the gears to both manual controls and a smartphone application mounted on the handlebars, along with information from sensors measuring rate of pedalling (cadence) and wheel speed. This combination of monitoring and control allows the system to make automatic gear changes under the control of a smart algorithm running on the smartphone. When a rider’s cadence rate slows, the application automatically sends a signal to shift into a lower gear. Bluetooth Smart – a low-energy version of Bluetooth – is used to wirelessly connect the system.

The wireless bicycle was initially designed as a training tool for competitive cyclists to help improve performance and technique. It would allow a rider in training to collect data and receive real-time coaching from the smart technology. The technology could also be used more broadly with any consumer bicycle to optimise performance and make it more user-friendly – it is designed to help avoid gear combinations that put too much pressure on the chain and increases safety by automatically shifting down gears when the rider brakes too fast.

“At Cambridge Consultants, we see a future where every product is smart,” said Ensor. “This bicycle demonstration shows how a combination of sensing, control, algorithms and connectivity can make a real difference to just one sector of the sports and fitness market. We see countless applications in different industries, and we are actively working on a number of projects that take a device and infuse our technology and design expertise to optimise the user experience.”

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