Connected Biking: How the Internet of Things Will Change the Future of Biking – Part 2

A connected journey is accessible and integrated between the bike, your home environment, the roads and your smart devices throughout the whole trip. In the second part of our interview industrial designer Louis-P. Huard talks about how connected bikes are integrated in our existing transportation ecosystem and what kind of impact they will have on the infrastructure and environment.

What gaps in the transportation ecosystem do connected bikes close? Can this be used as a first or a last mile product?

Connected bikes help close the loop by creating ecosystems that empower the whole community to contribute to the data generated by connected journeys. This data can transform our cities by allowing urban planners and city dwellers to use that information to improve urban environments. It might mean the addition of bike paths, additional bike racks or even city-specific roads to cater to new, diverse forms of transportation.

The beauty of connected systems means that connected bikes can be used both as first and last mile solutions because connectivity while riding means instantaneous notification of events along the journey, while the data collected during and after the road can be used to support clever city planning and allow us to understand transport better.

What kind of impact do connected bikes have on the environment, infrastructure and the biking industry?

Connected bikes have a positive effect on the environment by helping to reduce the carbon footprint. Obviously, bikes provide an alternative form of transport to cars and other forms of polluting transport. Even electric bikes can take advantage of the smart grid, tapping into stored energy.

Plus, the collective knowledge of rider behavior now lets us plan smarter, as well as use renewable energy and resources. With an added sense of environmental awareness, bikes can also now be built using locally sourced, sustainable materials, reducing the environmental impact even further and even creating new jobs.

Because of the open nature of connected systems, we really are all working together to learn from the data which we are collectively generating. It opens new possibilities to advance even more rapidly and allows cities to move more efficiently. This community sourced data not only allows cities to flow more effectively, but creates a safer, less-distracting transit for rider and the greater road.

Many urban planners in cities (like London and Portland) are buying data from one of the cycle-logging websites to gain insights into cyclists’ habits. How can this data be used to make cities safer for cyclists?

The data generated from connected bikes is one of the most exciting elements, because it can make our cities smarter as well as safer. Data can be used to help plan infrastructure better and help us understand transportation as a whole.

This has a hugely positive environmental and economic benefit, helping our roads to become less polluted, congested and therefore safer for all forms of traffic. This data is not only applicable to the roads and bike paths, but also supports in planning parking spaces and allowing us to plans new roads which facilitate a better flow of traffic.

Can these bikes be integrated into a bikesharing system?

Connected bikes are a highly valuable addition to the bikesharing system. In fact, connected bikes often facilitate bikesharing by providing advanced security and tracking systems, making it easier and more cost-effective for the cities to implement, because bikes are less likely to go missing.

Because bikesharing is increasing in advanced cities, the data again helps to plan future infrastructure, leaving the roads less congested and therefore safer and environmentally advanced. Plus, it is the collective nature of the connected bike which has social benefits from both an individual perspective as well as a community perspective. Even things like tracking your fitness or sharing your journey with loved ones can help us, to feel more connected.

While our current bikesharing systems are top down, the future of connected bikes opens possibilities for peer-to-peer bikesharing, where communities pool their resources to provide quicker and more relevant transport solutions and ultimately keep the rider in control of their bike and their journey. The ability to track and secure the connected bike means that just about anything is possible.

Ultimately, the connected bike has the power of facilitating the concept of connected cities and communities. Everyone now has the opportunity to use available resources more efficiently and provide valuable data that will help shape our cities and pave the way for the future city, where decisions are based on human behavior, sustainability and efficiency.

Are you ready to share your data to increase safety and pave the way for more efficient cities, roads and communities? Leave a comment.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

Connected Biking: How the Internet of Things Will Change the Future of Biking – Part 1

Obtaining a safer, more personalized and contextually relevant biking experience by connecting our bikes with the internet? Yes, says industrial designer Louis-P. Huard, an expert for future biking technologies. In our interview he explains the concept of the “connected bike”, why we need it and how technology can enhance the rider experience.

What is a connected bike?

A connected bike uses technology to facilitate a securer and more personalized biking experience for everyone on the road. A connected riding environment means that the whole journey – from before the rider leaves home to well beyond they arrive safely at their destination – accessible and integrated between their bike, home environment, the roads and their smart devices.

A connected bike can be equipped with sensors, which increase safety and awareness for the bike and the rider while in transit. For example, haptic feedback technology can be used to help the rider navigate their journey through vibrations in the handlebars, keeping the rider safe while in traffic.

In addition to haptic feedback, audio cues can also help the rider navigate, as well as warn of traffic incidents, meaning that no more dangerous glances at their smartphone while on the go, making their journey safer, as well as safer for the other commuters.

Why do we need such a connected bike?

A connected ecosystem is about a smarter use of resources which are available, making the experience contextually relevant and personalized. It facilitates already existing behaviors and technologies, to simply guide the rider in the right direction, without imposing any steep learning curves.

For example, the haptic feedback can be incorporated into those areas of the bike which the rider is already touching: the handlebars. Because the rider does not have to learn new skills or change their existing behavior in any way, they are encouraged to simply focus on the ride, therefore making the roads more communal and safe.

Connected bikes facilitate a collaborative environment, thanks to their safety and tracking features. Bikes can be used to provide alternative transport options as density increases in cities, creating a cost-effective and an environmentally efficient solution to over-crowded roads and associated strains on infrastructure.

The data collected from connected bikes can help provide insight on travel behavior and provide a truly global approach to collaborative experience, from which improvements can be made that increase safety and make our roads and systems more efficient spaces.

What kind of technology is required? How will this technology enhance the rider experience?

Approaches to technology differ depending on the desired outcome. When safety is a primary value, specific technology can be used to ensure that safety is approached at each technical decision. For example, seamless connection can be achieved by using Bluetooth and GSM modules to cover both on- and offline cases.

Warnings can then be handled which make the rider safer, such as using sensory cues to warn riders of approaching vehicles or traffic, for example. These sensory cues should fit within existing user behavior, where haptic feedback such as vibration of the handlebars not only guides riders on the correct route for their journey, but can also safeguard in the case that the rider checks their smartphone by vibrating violently.

Creating alternative feedback methods also ensures a safer journey, where a range of sensory cues can be used depending on the user’s context. Audio can be used in addition to vibration to signify event importance, or simply ensure that the rider receives the cue. Because the rider receives the message quickly, the faster response time means that they have the time to avoid accidents.

Technical accessories mean that pretty much any bike can become a connected bike, thanks to things like GPS, Bluetooth, GSM modules and sensors. With any bike now having the ability to become connected, it really is an exciting increase in intelligence and even more efficient locomotion.

When Steve Jobs shared his excitement about personal computers, he referred to the computer as “the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” Now imagine the possibilities of the bicycle becoming even smarter and the positive implication this can have on transportation.

What do you think about the “connected bike” concept? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.