About this project
"See.Sense. makes other bike lights look dumb. Meet the environment-sensing bike light that's bright in more ways than one" - Stuff
"The Next Technological Leap in Cycle Lighting?" - Cycling World
Once mobile phones made calls. Now they are smart. Once cycle lights just flashed. Now we've made them smart too. They're not just along for the ride anymore. Now your bike lights can work for you to make you more visible when you need it most.
See.Sense. uses advanced, patent-pending sensor technology to monitor you, your bicycle and your environment. It can detect situations when you might not be seen by other road users. For example, See.Sense. can detect when you are:
• at a road junction
• filtering in urban traffic
• on a roundabout
• travelling in low light, such as under an overpass or in a road tunnel
• approached by a car with headlights on.
When you encounter such a situation, See.Sense. will increase its brightness and flash rate to make you more visible to other road users.
Light performance is usually a trade-off between high brightness, long runtime and compactness. Choose any two at the expense of the third. See.Sense. breaks this rule by using its power intelligently, enabling it to be bright when you need it and still have a long runtime in a small package.
Why not just flash at full power all the time?
It’s simply too bright. Just like car fog light, you don’t want it on all the time. It’s too distracting for other road users. The change in speed and intensity is also more effective in attracting and maintaining attention. It also allows a much longer runtime from a light which is compact and lightweight.
See.Sense. selects its power output based on your situation, so it can be bright all the time and really bright when you need it most.
Advanced Sensor Technology - See.Sense.continually monitors motion, orientation and light. Both the front and rear lights use this technology to monitor the bicycle and its environment. So it's the first bicycle light than can respond to your situation, flashing brighter, to make you more visible when you most need it.
Seriously Bright LEDs - You can see a car’s tail lights clearly in the daytime, but not most bike lights. See.Sense. uses the brightest, most efficient LEDs, enabling See.Sense. to flash brighter than the lights on a car. This lets you be seen clearly, even in daylight.
Cyclists are most often not seen by other road users at dawn and dusk and this level of extra brightness helps See.Sense. really punch through the gloom to command attention and get you noticed.
Widely Dispersed Light - Most cycle lights have a narrow beam which is only effective when a car is approaching from behind. We think what you really need is side visibility and so we’ve deliberately used Fresnel lens elements to increase the viewing angle of our light, helping you be seen from every angle. It even illuminates you and the road around you. This helps drivers high up in HGV cabs and motorists viewing you from a side angle see you much better. This extra wide viewing angle also means our lights can be really bright, without dazzling drivers.
Long Runtime and USB Chargeable - See.Sense.’s intelligent design with a variable flash-rate provides an efficient use of power, therefore providing a long battery life. We're designed it to run for at least 12 hours - enough for a typical week of commuting by bike. It can charge from any USB socket, which is convenient and also more environmentally friendly than using disposable batteries.
Lightweight - Because the See.Sense. light can use its power efficiently, it doesn’t need the large external battery pack associated with many bright lights. It's compact and convenient, coming in at only 55 grams (about the weight of 12 sheets of A4 paper!).
Fuel Gauge - Letting you know the remaining runtime. Your See.Sense. will never run out of charge unexpectedly!
No Switches - It uses motion gestures to turn on and off. It stays off in your pocket and stays on when you're waiting at traffic lights. It’s easy to use - just fit and forget. And if you really do forget to turn it off, the auto-off function kicks in after 10 minutes of inactivity to ensure you'll have lights for your next journey.
Waterproof - It’s properly waterproof and will survive season after season.
Attractive Design that is Easy to Mount and Remove - The light’s casing was designed in conjunction with a leading UK designer, so as well as having streamlined aesthetics, it is very practical and easy to attach and remove from the bicycle. It is made with sturdy, quality materials.
Front light: Up to 150 lumens for the standard model, and up to 200 lumens for the ‘Intense’ model.
Rear light: Up to 90 lumens for the standard model, and up to 120 lumens for the ‘Intense’ model.
Runtime: Around 12 hours, depending on usage (variations due to light changing flash patterns at times of increased risk. We expect a commuter using this light to easily obtain 12 hours).
Weight: Very light at around 55 grams.
Size: Small and compact at 5.8 x 3.8 x 4.8 cm.
Materials: We are working with a materials specialist to finalise the material choice. The lens is likely to be made of Lexan (the same tough polycarbonate used in the helmet visors in the Apollo moon missions!). The casing is likely to be made from Luran S, a very tough ASA plastic. We're using the finest materials for the finest bike light.
Mount: Supplied with a bungy mount, because in testing, it was by far the strongest and most secure. Please note: we are currently working with YKK (a large zip and fastener manufacturer) to improve the look of the mount. The mount you receive will be slimmer and much cooler looking than the one in the video. It will also be black, not green. If you prefer a more traditional mount, please add £2 to your pledge and we'll ship you an additional silicone band mount for your light (or two bands if you order a set).
TECHNOLOGY – HOW IT WORKS
See.Sense. uses a suite of advanced sensors to monitor orientation, acceleration, light levels, voltages and temperatures. Its primary sensor is an accelerometer more commonly found in mobile phones. This allows it to measure acceleration and orientation up to 800 times a second. It also measures the capacitance of a reverse biased LED to determine light levels. An onboard microcontroller operates at 8 million instructions per second to analyse the data and determine input data values, such as cadence (pedalling rate), illumination levels, road surface conditions, travelling uphill or downhill, acceleration or braking, cornering lean, yaw (rotation) and so on. This is then fed through a decision matrix to identify scenario events such as traversing a junction or roundabout, being approached by car headlights, filtering in traffic, obstacle avoidance, lane positioning, entering a dimly lit area (such as a road tunnel or underpass), starting off and so on. A flashing and brightness pattern is then calculated and sent to a very efficient constant current driver which powers the top grade LED. Voltage and temperature measurement enable the device to operate efficiently in all situations.
This use of technology is covered in a fourteen page patent application (GB1314944.8), which is currently pending.
WHAT WE ARE OFFERING
Pledge £60 or more : Front and Rear Pair. Get some road sense with aset of See.Sense. Intelligent Front and Rear Lights. The rear light flashes at 90 lumens and the front at 150 lumens when you need it most, helping other road users see you, even in daylight.
Pledge £75 or more : Front and Rear INTENSE Pair. Get some road sense with a set of See.Sense. INTENSE Intelligent Front and Rear Lights. The rear light flashes at a 120 lumens and the front at a 200 lumens when you need it most, helping other road users see you, even in daylight.
Pledge £99 or more : GEEK Edition. Who said that lights needed to just flash a regular, boring regular “blip, blip, blip”. We’ll custom program your INTENSE front and rear set to flash your own morse code message (up to 100 characters). With up to 120 lumens at the rear and 200 lumens at the front, you’re sure to get your message across. Individually numbered and strictly limited in number to just 49.
Pledge £129 or more : ELITE Edition. The ultimate set for unparalleled performance. We select every component by hand. This enables us to custom engineer a rear light with at least 144 lumens and a front with at least 240 lumens. It’s labour intensive with lots of testing, but boy is it worth it. Get a really special light set. Individually numbered and strictly limited in number to just 49.
Pledge £149 or more : ELITE GEEK Edition. A combination of the Geek Edition’s personalised message and the Elite Edition’s custom engineering for unparalleled performance. Individually numbered and strictly limited in number to just 25.
Pledge £250 or more : Get a personalised set of See.Sense. ELITE Lights. Visit us in our workshop, just outside Belfast and we'll analyse your pedal stroke and hand build a bespoke light set to perfectly suit your riding style. This will further increase the responsiveness of the light to your unique pedal stroke. With hand crafted electronics, we can further tune the brightness for unparalleled performance. The ultimate cycle light set. Strictly limited to just 10 individually numbered sets.
International Customers Welcome: We've got fast shipping to anywhere in the world for only £3 extra.
We’re not big fans of stretch goals. We've already selected and used the best components and materials to bring you the best product. See.Sense. doesn't need to be upgraded since we didn't cut corners. And we want to remain focused on our primary goal – bringing you the best possible light with all the features we promised, delivered on time. However, with larger orders we do get improved value – if we buy more, we get a better price. We want to pass that value back to you, so we’re adding these sensible stretch goals:
- £20,000 - ACHIEVED! – More efficient protection circuit for the battery. Why? It extends the standby time of your lights when they are not in use. If you only use your bike every few weeks, this means you've got more power in the battery and an improved runtime when you do head out on the road. (If you're a more frequent cyclist, it makes minimal difference.)
- £25,000 - ACHIEVED! – Hackability. We’ll add programming pads to the rear of the circuit board and provide instructions on how to program the microcontroller. You’ll need an inexpensive Atmel AVRISP mkII and the free Atmel Studio software. You can program in C or AVR Assembly (ASM). The programmer is widely available, but if you would like us to send you one, simply increase your pledge by £40 and we’ll ship everything you need (apart from a PC or Mac!).
- £30,000 - ACHIEVED! – Choice of colour. We’ll give two colour choices for your casings. You’ll get to decide which you would like for each of your lights. We're delighted to announce that the alternative colour choice is limited edition Kickstarter GREEN. (We'll send a survey to all backers confirming if they would like original Black or Kickstarter Green for each of their lights.)
Philip McAleese is a commuter cyclist who has over 20 years experience in electronic and software engineering.
He graduated from the Queen’s University of Belfast with a Bachelor of Engineering (Electronic and Software Engineering). Following University, Philip spent two years designing air traffic control simulators for National Air Traffic Services (the UK equivalent of the Federal Aviation Administration). He then went on to design, build and maintain trading systems for several multinational investment banks. He held a number of Vice President and Director roles and delivered dozens of large projects incorporating both hardware and software.
Philip’s skillset is quite unique as most engineers will specialise in either Software or Hardware engineering. His background enables him to design both the electronics and the complex embedded algorithms that make See.Sense. possible. In fact, understanding the design at both a software and hardware level enables Philip to optimise the design to a very high level.
He was hospitalised after a cycling accident and after years of commuting grew tired of hearing drivers say “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”. Dissatisfied with the performance of current lights in making cyclists visible, he set out to design something better.
Philip left his corporate job in September 2012 in order to focus exclusively on See.Sense.
Irene McAleese, Philip's wife and business partner, is excited to join him on this journey.
Irene holds a Bachelors degree in Behavioural Science (majoring in Occupational Health and Safety and Applied Psychology) from Griffith University in Australia and a Post-graduate Professional Diploma in Human Resource Management.
Irene is an experienced management consultant and has led organisational change programmes for multinational companies. This enables her to understand customer led design.
Irene has combined her experience of running large projects, occupational health and safety, and her love of cycling, to help ensure See.Sense. is meeting your needs as a cyclist.
To refine See.Sense, Philip and Irene worked with hundreds of cyclists throughout development to ensure the design would not only be imaginative and inspiring, but also practical to meet their needs. Field-testing was carried out with a large group of experienced cycling club members from our local cycling club, who have given the light impressive feedback.
We are part of the 2013 Propel Programme – a prestigious accelerator programme that has enabled us to fast track See.Sense. from an early prototype to a viable business in less than a year. We’re working with amazing people, including TED Speakers like Bill Liao and Heather White. We’re receiving workshops, business networking assistance, world class mentoring and support that has enabled us to rapidly transition from the corporate world to running a successful startup. It has helped prepare us to bring this first product to you.
We’ve had some terrific help to get to where we are today and we want to thank Invest NI's Propel Programme, E-synergy, Big Small Design, Triplicate Design, University of Ulster, Queens University of Belfast, Ka-Boom, Craic-Addict Films and of course all the cyclists who helped us design and build this revolutionary light.
We thank our many followers on Twitter @_PhilipM and @ seesense_cc as well as at www.facebook/seesense.cc who have eagerly contributed during the design process. We also thank our friends and family - without their help we wouldn't have been able to get this off the ground.
FROM DESIGN SPARK TO PRODUCTION READY
In 2011, Philip was cycling to work most days. He was tired of drivers not always seeing him and was determined to do something to improve the situation. He looked at his own skill-set and decided that using his passion for intelligent electronic systems, he would produce a new generation of cycle lights.
Over the next two years, Philip iterated the design many times. There were lots of design direction changes along the way. Some planned (improvements to efficiency, reliability and functionality) and some unexpected (thermal load balancing, differences in cycle vibration transmission). The image below shows the design progression through all the iterations.
The case design was undertaken by a professional design company. We recognise that we don’t have the skills to do this ourselves, so we teamed up with experts to ensure you get the best performance, reliability and weather sealing. The image below shows the transition from sketch to 3D printed prototypes to CNC machined and hand finished case.
We have an advanced prototype that we now want to turn into a full production product so as many of you as possible can benefit from improved visibility. In particular, tooling costs are high, so we need your support to fund the tooling and production of the first batch of See.Sense. bike lights.
We have a fully functioning, production-ready prototype. In order to bring this to production quickly, we have lined up manufacturing partners for the following components:
- Electronics board – the heart of the device, using only the best components
- Injection mouldings – the lens, body and gaskets, precision engineered for optimal performance
- USB cable and rechargeable battery – we’re using off the shelf components for reliability and performance (no need to reinvent the wheel)
Our expert team will program and assemble every light by hand. Each light will be fully tested before we send it to you. This hand crafting is labour intensive, but ensures the highest levels of quality and reliability.
Production is scheduled to start once this campaign completes. Here’s a month by month breakdown of what we’re doing:
October -In addition to running the campaign, we’re performing endurance and extreme condition testing to confirm the design lives up to your expectations. We’re performing final refinement of the software, ensuring it is as fast, efficient and reliable as possible. The electronics will receive a final tweak with extensive component testing to extract every last drop of efficiency through selection of the optimum component set. Documentation is also key, so we’ll be producing the instruction manual.
November -The campaign closes and we have a really key month. Now it’s time to tool the injection moulds. Most companies take around 6 weeks to produce the moulds. We’ve been able to find a reliable company who can turn it around in 26 calendar days. We’ll place the order for the electronics boards, batteries and usb cables. These all have a lead time of four weeks. We’ll also finalise the mounting hardware, packaging and build production rigs, to ensure we can program and test the first production run.
December - By early December, we’ll have all the component parts and the rigs we need to start production. We’ll build a test set and ensure that everything works like it should with more extreme testing. We’ll have the final light set independently tested (again) to ensure it remains compliant with FCC and CE regulations.
January - Used to complete production, packaging and shipping, plus a good dollop of contingency. We’ve been aggressive, but not unrealistic with our schedule. But every plan needs a little slack to make sure we don’t disappoint. By month end, your new intelligent lights should be arriving on your doorstep.
Risks and challenges
We are experienced project managers, but as this is our first hardware project outside the corporate environment, we’ve enlisted lots of help from professional companies, who do this on a daily basis. We are on the highly competitive Propel Programme (one of the leading entrepreneur accelerator programmes in Europe) which has given us extensive training, support and mentoring. This has been very comprehensive in helping us prepare for the project and has identified the following key risks.
Injection Moulding Risks
All of our prototypes are CNC machined and hand finished. When an injection mould tool is made, there are various design considerations that are essential to a good final product. A bad implementation would require remaking the tool, which takes 4 weeks. To minimise the risk of this happening, we will ensure that the tool specialist, case designer and Philip will all work together, taking all the time needed up front to ensure tooling goes smoothly.
The design uses off the shelf components, which could be are subject to normal stock fluctuations. We will pre-order all key components once we meet our funding goal (before the project finishes) to minimise the risk of any component shortages.
We are continuing to refine the design, ensuring it works in all conditions. Although unlikely, if a significant problem were found, there could be a delay to allow for a redesign. We continue to push testing hard now, to minimise this risk.
We have already independently tested our electronics package against Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and we are compliant with Part 15, Subpart B, Class B. We have also independently tested against Certification for Europe and are compliant with EMC Directive 2004/108/EC.
If we were to receive too many pledges, we might not be able to make enough in the first run to fulfil demand on time. That’s why we’ve limited all of the reward levels, removing this risk. We want to do everything we can to make sure you get your lights as soon as possible. If these reward tiers sell out, we will add additional ones with later delivery dates.
We’ve allocated some contingency time in our schedule to help get your lights out on time. We will be honest and transparent in our regular updates, so you’ll always know exactly what stage we are at and when to expect your lights.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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