No wires, no switches, no letting go of the handlebars. Super bright, super visible, perched on top of the highest point on a bicycle: you.
It is all about safety. Yours and other road users. Our smart turn indicator attaches to your cycling helmet and enables you to show those around you where you are going just by rolling your head. This action activates the left or right direction lights automatically, letting you keep your hands on the handlebars, so that you stay balanced, in control and safe.
Intuitive, elegant, simple.
City cycling is inherently risky. One of the critical aspects of safety is to correctly indicate changes in the direction of travel, so that other road users know exactly what you are about to do.
Traditionally, this has been achieved by extending one's arm, which affects the balance, as well as the ability to steer, break and control the bicycle. This is particularly dangerous at crowded junctions, roundabouts, when going downhill or in wet and slippery conditions.
As a result most cyclist do not give turn signals at all. Let's change that.
A helmet mounted motion tracking sensor, combined with indicator lights, activated by a set of pre-defined dynamic head gestures.
Lets take a look what they are:
Lets take a look in detail at what the product can do:
Modes of operation
Standard flashing beacon (running lights)
The two above combined, temporarily switching back to indicator-only mode when activated by a head gesture
Additional product features
Aural feedback that the gesture instructions have been received and correctly interpreted
Duration of the indicating sequence controllable dynamically by the type and intensity of the triggering gestrure
Selectable light intensity, up-to 9 cd (candelas) in each direction, giving a total maximum output of 36 cd. The minimum legal requirement for a bicycle mounted lights is 4 cd
Dear Kickstarters ...
Why did I start the project? Because I genuinely needed a device like that. During a year of my everyday London commute, I probably text-book indicated where am I going about 5 times.
I looked at others, and I was definitely not alone.
It is simply too dangerous to let the handlebars go. Try doing this at the Westminster roundabout or Parliament Square going towards St. James Park at 8:30 a.m. being squished by two double decker buses just behind. In the drizzle. I bet all the cities around the World give us the same amount of "buzz".
The whole thing is a bit of a gamble. Well, if it is a cassino, then the game is not fair anyway. So lets sway it to our advantage.
How? By, thinking for ourselves and for others. Staying visible, always in control. Assertive but never aggresive. Bold but never brave. Never assuming. Always testing. And of course, letting others know what we are about to do.
So, I had this idea: automate it and create a solution which is natural, intuitive and elegant.
I took an accelerometer, similar to what we have in our smart phones, added a microprocessor, some clever software (software is my profession, making things, my passion) and defined a range of head movements that trigger left or right indicator signals.
I quickly put a prototype together:
... and selected components for the final product, to make sure that I can make the device small and neat:
Thinking about how the final product will look:
It will wrap around the helmet and strap through the vent holes using velcro straps (or similar). The central housing will slot into one of the rear vent holes. It is a perfect place for it: away from view, away from other devices, and safely tucked away and protected from the elements and mechanical dangers.
We will of course make sure that it fits as many helmets as possible. If not, it will still be possible to afix it to the helmet shell directly.
The flexible straps with the forward and rear facing lights will attach to the sides of the helmet and it will be possible to mount the lights such that their axis is parallel to the ground level. The most likely material we will choose for the straps will be a thin ruberised flexible ribbon, with wires inside, which we sometimes see on the high-class earphones.
The light cone emitted by each of the lights will be 120 degrees, which while giving a good coverage, is focussed enough to deliver high level of the luminous flux for the perfect night and day visibility.
The device will be re-chargeable without the need to remove it from the helmet.
I am really looking forward to the feedback form the early testers! For those who want to become them, thank you for taking an early leap of faith!
Currently in concept prototype phase, with full functionality demonstrated
Moving to proof of market, by which I mean: here, together, with you, on Kickstarter
Productization plans laid out, contingent on the proof of market results
The hardest thing will be to turn the bulky prototype into a robust product. That is why I set the funding threshold high. So if you like it, and will pledge yourself, please spread the word. Christmas present 2014? This will certainly put some pressure on me not to miss any of the deadlines.
Regarding the prototypes, I have them in hand. I have experince working with complex electronics (I worked for a fabless semiconductor startup, which still had to fab fab things, and I am a physist by training, and we physisists ...), plus I still have lots of friends who will chip in their time, if I am stuck.
I have a full desktop prototyping facilities, including oscilloscopes, and a very cool 3D router.
Back to product: it will be initially made in the UK by a small, local and friendly company in the Westcountry, called Sub Assembly Services. I worked with them before and they are great at handling low to medium volume.
This is a safety critical project, therefore stringent quality controls both for hardware and software are required. Being potentially a mass market proposition, the aesthetic aspect is also very important. The product has to be compact, light, easy to install, use, configure and activate.
All this means, that to bring this idea to product stage will require NRE costs of approximately £30K, not including salary costs and consultancy fees for international certification, assembly etc. To provide sufficent leeway, we would therefore like to cross the £100K funding threshold.
Such level of funding will guarantee fast and predictible execution, as well as high quality of the final product.
The product is designed to augment, but not totally replace the traditional turn indicator signals. If the aural feedback of activation is not heard, or the situation requires the additional certainty that motorists correctly recognize your intentions, traditional hand signals should still be used.
In the case of false triggering, the indicator lights can be switched off by "a painc" gesture.
My name is Michal Harasimiuk, I live in the UK, and came here in 1996 from Poland. I trained as a theoretical physicist, but I guess I am just too tactile minded. I should have been an experimentalist.
After working for startups, developing some ground breaking technology in computer graphics (World's first fully programmable graphics pipeline, check out my US pat: 6,825,857) and high performance computing (World's first GPU accelerated supercomptuer to make it into the Top500 list, then at position 6), I started sharing my time between the City, where I consulted for the banks on their high performance computing architectures; and my home where I work on developing my many ideas.
I love Saluki dogs, the desert, mountains and the sea. Winter is for telemarking. Summer is for cycling. Classic Mercedes cars teach me about what it means to engineer and to build to last. Yosemitee, Chamonix, Paxos and Mongolia are where my thoughts float most often. The body usually stays in London or Bristol.
Thank you for your support!
Ride hard and stay safe!
Risks and challenges
There are three major risks: two functional and one aesthetic.
On the functional side, the software cannot produce false activations, and it cannot miss any of the intended ones.
The answer will be in the lab and field testing, and continuous software refinement. So we will crack it! In fact, I think we have cracked it already.
Now, a big question: will other road users recognize it as a turn indicator? In our field testing so far, definitely yes. Both during the night and during the day. The lights are clearly visible and sufficiently offset to the sides to be unambiguosly interpreted as a turn indicator. The flashing frequency and duration matches that of the indicators on the cars, and by virtue of switching on suddenly, they attract the attention of other drivers, even if they catch it only in their peripheral vision. Visual cortex is triggered by change - this is why all the indicator lights flash in the first place. Of course, they must be mounted correctly - i.e. projecting the light beam in the plane parallel to the ground level (this will depend on the riding position). Also, it is important to make sure that the lights are not obscured by the backpack etc.
On the aesthetic side, these days, the design bar is very high indeed.
It is a safety critical device and needs to be waterproof, robust and easy to use. Not necessary easy to achieve, but certainly achievable!
It will also look nice, just probably not iPhone nice, but we will try our best.
Field prototypes, and possibly the final product as well, will be made of carbon fibre. It is a fantastic material, one of my favourite. I am very fortunate that the National Centre for Composite technology is right on my doorstep. They said they will help with the prototyping process. Check them out - it really is a very cool place: http://www.nccuk.com/
Hand build prototypes, wrapped with care in a prepreg carbon fibre. World belongs to the brave. Become one of our elite test squad. Have direct input into the product features and roadmap. See you at a product launch party. I will start with a request: the first thing I will ask you, is to measure the dimensions of your rear vent hole in your helmet. And potentially send me pictures.
Production run of the feature optimised and field tested devices.
No compromises on quality: the brightest LEDs, rechargeable batteries, great design. For your day and night safety.
Be ready for the arrival of winter.
You are an individual or an institution for whom road safety, and that of cyclists in particular, is of great concern. A 1000 pounds contriubution will make a huge difference, because it is pure NRE money. Therefore: huge thank you. Hope to see you at the product launch party. You will of course get a beautifully presented product in a gift box.
Wow! Thank you for getting excited about our first product ... and immediately looking beyond it. This a roadmap changing contribution. Would you like to join our advisory board? Would you like to help us establish global strategy? Sales and distribution channels? Patronage? No matter whether you are a philantropist, a business person, or represent an organization, I think we should talk. Needless to say, you will also get a beautifully presented product in a gift box.