About this project
Cycling is the best way to get around, except for if you get lost. With Blubel you have a local expert to guide you wherever you are. A beautiful device housed in an elegant bicycle bell, it not only navigates your every turn, but also learns from you and the cycling community to find the safest routes wherever you are in the world. We are excited to launch Blubel on Kickstarter with the help of the European Space Agency and IBM.
Blubel guides you to your destination, following the most cycle-friendly routes. Its intuitive LED gestures call out turn by turn directions and indicate the heading of your ultimate destination. No more getting lost, diverted onto busy roads, or forced to stop at every junction to find your bearings. It works anywhere in the world too!
Blubel is a connected bicycle bell, so you can ring it just like you would a traditional bell. Every time a Blubel is rung, it indicates an alert point in the supporting app and cloud technology. These location points and other journey data are gathered and analysed to calculate safest routes and highlight any potential hazards on your selected route. Because we believe in the collective wisdom of the cycling community.
We wanted to make the Blubel cycling experience as seamless as possible, so here are a few of the neat features that help you while you focus on the ride:
The Blubel device fits inside a traditional bell so there’s no hogging of the handlebars space. This aesthetic was all about creating a beautiful accessory, rather than a complex piece of technical equipment. In fact, the design is so simple, you’ll almost forget that it’s built on some highly sophisticated space technology!
The Blubel bell is made out of chrome to sound like this:
The surface of the device really matters – Blubel top is matte silicon so there's no light glare from the sun and it feels smooth to the touch. Shaped like a pebble it's a pleasure to hold.
Blubel comes in 5 additional colours: in addition to the classic Charcoal we have Indigo, Seafoam, Fern, Indigo, Fuchsia and Ruby.
You can also have the brass bell in silver-tone or gold-tone.
We worked with mechanical engineers on the ergonomics of the attachment mount so that it fits securely on the handlebars, no matter how bumpy the ride.
Just position the B so that it looks like bike handlebars, then rotate 90 degrees so that it looks like a B. The spring loaded mechanism holds Blubel in place even in the most uneven road surfaces.
Once you've finished your journey, you just rotate it back and it gently springs out right into the palm of your hand. Blubel can be tilted and positioned around to fit any angle of handlebars.
Blubel works in all weather conditions and is fully rainproof and rustproof.
With the Blubel app you can plan your route for guidance by the Blubel device, track your cycling after and customise the Blubel device. The Blubel app automatically shows the three quietest route options, and other useful information such as time and distance to destination and potential hazards and roadworks.
With the help of our community, we will also show dangerous hotspots where people ring the Blubel bicycle bell and recommended bike parking spots. You will also be able to see roadworks locations in the UK (we’re integrating other countries as you're reading this!).
You can track your progress through our fitness tracker, with metrics such as calories burnt, distance, speed and time. The app will be available for iOS and Android.
We want cycling to be accessible to all so that our cities can be cleaner, greener and safer, and people can be healthier and happier.
For us it's not about creating yet another cycling gadget; it’s about empowering the cycling community. For this release we have optimised the intuitive navigation gestures and routing algorithms that build on the data from the community. And this is only the beginning! We will continue to develop the app and technology to create a fully responsive navigation system that gives cyclists the ultimate advantage in any city.
We also want to share our findings to improve cycling in cities:
- Work with urban planners using the data from our community to improve cycling infrastructure
- Collaborate with other road user groups (like HGV companies) to find safer routes and improve on safety features
We are a young company with big ambitions to provide social navigation for cyclists around the world. To make Blubel a reality we need your help.
We are on Kickstarter as we’re seeking not only funding, but the feedback from the community to refine and improve the app and data features. You will have the opportunity to influence how this functionality evolves and, even more importantly, how we use the data to work with urban planners to improve and make cities smarter.
Your backing will go towards tooling so that we can manufacture the Blubel devices with our selected suppliers and launch the Blubel app. It's critical that we reach our target so that we can release Blubel into the world in the coming months, leveraging our partnerships with European Space Agency and IBM.
Earlier this year we joined the European Space Agency Business Incubator at Harwell. The programme helps startups like Blubel to successfully commercialise space technology to enhance the wellbeing of ordinary citizens.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has already successfully transferred over 300 space technologies to non-space sectors for applications as diverse as cooling suits for a Formula 1 racing team, a ground penetrating radar to detect cracks in mine tunnels and several health-care innovations. ESA has provided not only funding but technical expertise too for the development of our prototypes.
We also won the IBM Smart City Challenge, in association with the Mayor of London, Venturespring, Urban Design London and Tech.London. IBM is supporting us with the IBM Bluemix platform to develop powerful backend technology. We are also receiving business mentoring and support from Venturespring, the international venture development studio.
It all started when Blubel’s founder, Sasha, started cycling in London:
"I kept getting lost, or finding myself on busy roads; I even broke a few phones trying to read maps on the go. I almost quit until, whilst I was cycling with my friends, I realised – it's a breeze when you've got a good guide! I wanted to create something that would help others like me to start cycling. I started wondering; what if you could turn a bicycle bell into a super useful guide. And what if you could connect that guide to the community via Bluetooth and a mobile app… and Blubel (Bluetooth Bell) was born!"
With the help of Blubel CTO, Alessio, the team started prototyping. Sasha learnt a bit of Arduino and made a few early prototypes using yoghurt pots (!) to develop a really easy interface for cyclists. The result was simpler than a map, but detailed enough to pinpoint the exact turn on a complex roundabout.
We tried tried and tested these prototypes with our cyclist (and some non-cyclist) friends. We continued to prototype, refine and test the design with a team of designers and engineers, as well as numerous more cyclists, to bring you the product you see today.
We would like to thank… Studio Lanta, Venturespring, IBM, European Space Agency BIC, Morrama and the RSA for all their help and support. Also to Rob Wilks and Storybooks for the great tune!
Risks and challenges
Blubel has come a long way from the initial idea two years ago. We have developed and tested numerous prototypes, learnt many lessons and collaborated with some of the top designers and engineers in the country to bring the production-ready designs you see now.
We have partnered with some of the top names in the tech world - IBM and European Space Agency to take Blubel to the next level. Our designs have been refined by an experienced Design for Manufacture agency, Iterign. With their help we have engaged reliable manufacturers to ensure we can be down on the ground watching Blubels emerge!
As with many new product launches, there maybe unforeseen factors that result in a delay. Through extensive testing and reiteration we have ruled out many unexpected events and we have been very conservative on our timeline. It may be the case that we can deliver Blubel even sooner, but there may also be a possibility of some delay.
We will do our utter best to deliver the highest quality product to you as soon as possible and communicate effectively and regularly about our progress along the way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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