Cambridge Consultants has developed a bicycle that can be controlled with your smartphone mounted on the handlebars. The gears are wirelessly linked to a smartphone application that allows the bike to automatically change gears depending on incline and cadence. This bicycle could also be updated to include other smart technology like a GPS system and heart monitor.
"The exciting part about smart technology is the unlimited possibilities to enhance a device and its applications," commented Tim Ensor, business developer in the Wireless division at Cambridge Consultants. "This wireless bicycle is a great example of the many ways we can continue to upgrade technology. We could incorporate GPS and map data into the application to make gear changes in anticipation of upcoming hills, for example, or include a heart-rate monitor and other measurement tools to help improve training. But it's not just about the bike - connected systems have the potential to give all kinds of traditional products a new lease of life."
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 optimize 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.