Getting Ready for a Smart-Bike Upgrade

Application Examples, Internet of Things, Smart Things Leave a Comment

I bike. Not because it decreases traffic, reduces pollution, and eliminates parking problems, and is therefore easily the most efficient and sustainable means of urban transportation.

Not because governments offer incentives—like the UK “Cycle-to-Work” scheme—that provides tax benefits to people who travel to work by bike. And not because Boston, where I live, is among the dozens of global cities that have invested in infrastructure and launched bicycle-sharing programs (others include Barcelona; Hangzhou, with perhaps 80k bikes across 2700 stations, the world’s largest; London; NYC; Paris; SF; and Shanghai).

I bike because I love the freedom, the exhilaration, and the exercise. And as a technologist, I’ve collected many accessories to enhance my ride:

Garmin405a Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS Watch;   buckshot  a rugged Buckshot Bluetooth speaker, to listen to music without headphones that prevent hearing cars or other important ambient sounds; LG  a noise-cancelling, wind-screening LG Bluetooth headset, to answer or make calls;   lifeproof-bike-bar-mount-quickmount-australia-78-50358-a  and, of course, a waterproof LifeProof case and bike mount for my smart phone, so I can use the phone’s GPS for routing and directions.

An ideal set up? Not really, but this solution has been built over time and admittedly includes some redundancy.

The bigger problem is remembering to remove – and charge – each of these accessories after a ride. Or, on longer rides, even keeping these indispensable tools charged until I’m done.

That’s why I’m so excited that bikes are evolving. Get ready for the Smart Bike: a bike that merges the digital world with the bicycle world and adapts technology as an element of the bike itself.

One cool example comes from a SF- and Milan-based startup, Volata Cycles, and includes a number of important tech-based safety enhancements and innovations that are missing from my bike kit—an integrated 96bB horn; automated front and rear lights, and a GPS- and motion-based anti-theft system that monitors the bike and sends real-time location-tracking information. Three other features are particularly noteworthy: the bike features a front-wheel dynamo hub that automatically charges the 3,000mAh battery buried in the frame; a low-maintenance, grease- and oil-free belt drive with carbon tensile cords; and a joystick mounted on the brake hoods to maximize safety and control.

That the bike uses several ST components—STM32 MCUs, very low-power Bluetooth Smart modules, and 64kbit SPI-bus EEPROMs, among them—demonstrates the brilliance of the innovators at Volata and makes the bike even more appealing.

— Michael Markowitz, STMicroelectronics