While most cyclists like to think that they're pretty good at spotting road hazards such as potholes and sewer grates, the fact is that no one can watch the asphalt all the time. Inevitably, things like smartphone navigation screens, motorists or traffic lights are going to distract them. That's why Byxee was created. It's a bar-mounted device that scans the road in front of the bike hundreds of times per second, alerting the rider to anything that might wreck their wheels or even cause them to crash.
Byxee incorporates a video camera and a microprocessor, using a custom algorithm to detect shadows and contrast differences caused by irregularities on day-lit road surfaces. If the software determines that a given object poses a hazard (measuring 3 inches/76 mm or larger), the cyclist is alerted via an audio alarm.
Like driver assistance systems found on cars, Byxee also warns riders when moving objects such as pedestrians enter its field of view.
The device scans the road 50 to 80 feet (15 to 25 m) in front of the cyclist, and only engages when they have open road in front of them – this means it won't be constantly going off when they're following cars or other riders. Additionally, on stretches of road that have a continuously uneven surface (such as cobblestones), it just alerts the rider once at the beginning and then shuts up.
Byxee is powered by a USB-rechargeable battery, that should reportedly be good for 30 hours of use per charge. It's also water-resistant and has multiple sensitivity and field-of-view settings, for different styles of riding.
The Italian designers of the device have just started raising production funds, on Indiegogo. A pledge of US$139 will currently get you a Byxee, when and if it's ready to go. The planned retail price is $249.
Should you be looking for something that serves a similar purpose at night, incidentally, you might want to check on the still-in-development Lumigrids device.