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Cycling, Semiconductors and CES 2015

Cycling, Semiconductors and CES 2015
by Daniel Payne on 01-06-2015 at 10:00 pm

I’m an avid cyclist that rode some 6,744.3 miles in 2014, according to www.strava.com, a free web site and popular app for road bikers like me. At CES this week I’ve read about many creative devices and apps to make your cycling experience better, so here’s my take on all of it.


Connected Pedal

If you are mostly a commuter or recreational cyclist, and have no toe-clips or clip-in shoes, but always wanted to know where you’ve ridden then the new Connected Pedal from France may be for you. It also tells you speed, incline and estimated calories burned.

This replacement pedal has electronics inside of it to provide GPS and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) information. A side benefit is that you can track your bike in case it is stolen (unless the crook is smart enough to remove the colorful pedals). There’s no battery, because these pedals harvest your motion to generate enough electricity to operate the device and connect to WiFi all without having to use your SmartPhone.

I’m into speed and light weight components, so wouldn’t consider such a replacement pedal for myself and I kind of think that free apps like Stravaand MapMyRide do most of this already but require a SmartPhone with GPS. I’d love to see a teardown of this device to see how it all works.

COBI

This multi-function gizmogives you a thumb joystick controller on the handlebars with:

  • Front light (Urban minimalists, mountain-bikers, city cruisers)
  • Smart Phone Cradle
  • Custom bell
  • Turn signals on rear-facing lights
  • Music player control
  • Cadence, Speed, Heart Rate and Calories estimated
  • Turn-by-turn directions
  • Weather report
  • Estimated Time of Arrival
  • Reserve battery

eBikes

Tired of pedaling, or just want to get there faster? Consider eBikes, they have electric motors powered by batteries to assist your pedaling, both Yamaha and Bosch are big names in this market, and eflow is a smaller Swiss company.


Kenny Holmes takes a Bosch eBike for a spin

There are two approaches to eBikes: add-ons to any bike, or re-designed from the ground-up. Most of what I see are add-ons, requiring some assembly. genZe is showing off their California-designed eBikes with a 30 mile range between charges.

A smart wheel from FlyKly replaces your existing rear wheel to convert your bike into a pedal-assisted eBike. There’s even an app to track your location, performance and charging stats.

Generating Electricity

Unlike eBikes which use electricity to power an electric motor, there’s a consortium from Yucatan called Bambootec that is generating electricity by a device connected to the rear rim, powering a display on the handlebars and making USB ports ready for charging your mobile devices.

The bamboo name comes from their prototype frame which uses bamboo in the down tube.

Clothing with Electronics

I never really thought about this one, because I typically snap on my lights to the handlebar and seatpost, but having lights built into clothing does make sense. Visijax offers a cycling jacket with built-in turn signals and brake lights using LED technology.

You can recharge the lights through its lithium ion battery, and expect up to 30 hours between charges.

Smart Helmet

In cars Volvo has always set the standard for safety, so they decided to branch out into the cycling world with a special helmet that connects to your smart phone by bluetooth and knows your position by GPS, then alerts Volvo car drivers (like the XC-90) of any potential collision. The helmet even lights up and vibrates to alert both driver and cyclist of potential collisions. Really this is just at the concept stage, but it looks promising to keep us cyclists a bit safer from car crashes even in foggy conditions or in a blind spot.

I find myself yelling at un-attentive car drivers as they accidentally cut me off or get too close, so anything that keeps me alive on the road is interesting.

Virtual Training

Here in Oregon we get rain in the winter, and lots of it, so many cyclists prefer to stay in shape during the dreary months by cycling on a trainer device connected to their bike. The issue is that there is no change of scenery, and so the experience is quite monotonous, driving most cyclists mad before the workout is ended. Cycleops and Samsung have teamed up to create a virtual training experience to make you feel like it’s a real bike ride by using a Virtual Reality (VR) headset, even though you are cycling in place. The VR headset has a 5.7″ screen that creates a 96 degree field of view, and your head motions are detected by the built-in accelerometer and gyrometer.

You can ride pre-defined routes or create your own with a GoPro and GPS equipment.

Activtainment offers ebove, a virtual bike system that doesn’t require the googles and instead uses a stationary bike and display to show you the great outdoors while cycling in place.

Probably the most attractive-looking VR experience is the VR Road Cycle, another CES 2015 Innovation winner. Oddly enough this same company Moneual is best known for their robotic vacuum cleaner.

Power Meter

Hard-core cycling athletes want to know how many watts of power they are producing during pedaling and in the past this meant buying a replacement component with a built-in power meter, like: hub, crank arm or pedals. Pioneer is showing a device that connects to your existing crankset to measure power, and it received a 2015 CES innovation award.


What I Use

I love the clean look that wireless technology offers, so on my Fuji SL1 LE road bike I’ve got the Cateye Stealth 50 cyclocomputer that uses the ANT+ standard to provide me with:

  • Speed
  • Cadence
  • Heart Rate
  • GPS route

Related –IoT Application: Road Bike Fitness

There’s an interesting balance in fitness devices for cyclists between what the device does and what your smart phone does. When I first started tracking my cycling in 2013 I just used the free MapMyRide.com app and turned the GPS feature of my Samsung phone on. Later on I wanted to add a heart rate monitor and cadence, so that’s when I opted for a dedicated device like the Stealth 50 because it doesn’t require a smart phone at all, runs for over one year on a replaceable battery, and uploads easily to Strava.com.

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