CES 2013: control your bike with a smartphone
By Nicole Kobie in Las Vegas
Posted on 8 Jan 2013 at 20:37
Cycling computers and apps are nothing new, but one firm has taken the idea further, creating a smart bike that automatically shifts gears for you.
Cambridge Consultants is taking advantage of electronic gear shifters, ditching the cable between the handlebars and the back wheel in favour of a low-energy version of Bluetooth, which sends the signal to a smartphone app.
Electronic gear shifters are found on high-end bikes - the demo bicycle is a model used in the Tour de France, a spokesman said. The shifters can be automated, and are paired with sensors that feed data to the app's algorithm. This allows the bike to intelligently change gears when going up a hill, or maintain a set cadence or speed for training purposes.
A smartphone can be mounted on the handlebars, but in the demo booth at CES 2013, Cambridge Consultants were using a tablet, allowing a spokesman to increase the challenge for the cyclist on the stationary bike.
The system was designed to aid coaching and collect data for competitive cyclists - similar technology was used by Olympic cyclists at the velodrome last summer, but this system requires only a smartphone, rather than a laptop with expensive software.
Cambridge Consultants said its smart bike can also help amateur cyclists avoid gear combinations that put too much pressure on the chain, and shift down gears when a user brakes too quickly. It can also be used to aid workouts, letting users "do the sort of thing you'd do in a gym on the open road," a spokesman said.
The sensors and Bluetooth components cost around $10 in parts, so adding the system to an expensive bike with electronic gear changing wouldn't push up the overall cost. Cambridge Consultants said this highlights the possibilities of using smartphone processing power at the heart of such systems, using sensors to bring the "internet of things" to life.
Cambridge doesn't sell directly to consumers, but said it was in talks with manufacturers to get the system on bikes soon.
If cycling isn't your cup of tea, Cambridge Consultants have also automated a more relaxed pursuit: tea.
The idea follows on from automated capsule coffee machines, which use a pre-packaged capsule of grounds to make the perfect cup. While those systems do make tea, they run hot water over the capsule contents - which isn't ideal for brewing tea.
In order to let it steep, the Tê system puts the capsule of tea in a beaker of water, spinning it and running air bubbles through it. While the process is a bit more complicated than dunking a bag into a mug, the tea was certainly lovely.
As with the smart bike, Cambridge Consultants isn't taking the device commercial itself, but looking for partners to produce it.
Is your business a social business? For helpful info and tips visit our hub.
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office