NFC inner tube lets cyclists check air pressure with their smartphone
Austrian manufacturer Tubolito is already known for its tough, lightweight plastic bicycle inner tubes. Now, the company has added a chip to one model, which allows users to check their tire pressure using an app.
Known as the Tubo-MTB PSENS, the new mountain-bike-specific tube incorporates a pressure-sensing NFC (near field communication) chip that reportedly weighs only a few grams. Like other NFC chips, it gets temporarily powered up by the radio waves emitted by a reader device such a smartphone. This means that it does not require a battery.
The tube gets placed inside a third-party tire just like any other tube, and is then pumped up to the user's preferred air pressure. Whenever that person subsequently wishes to check their tire pressure, they just launch a dedicated iOS/Android app, then hold their phone within 3 cm (1.2 in) of the chip – it's located beside the valve stem.
This does mean that the user can't check the pressure while they're riding, which they probably shouldn't be doing anyway. Cyclists can do so using the Quarq TyreWiz and the SKS Airspy, although both devices are externally mounted on the valve stems, and do require periodic battery charges.
The Tubo-MTB PSENS is available now in 27.5 and 29-inch tire sizes – which tip the scales at 90 g and 93 g respectively – priced at a whopping US$49.90 per tube. Both are presta valve only.
You can see the PSENS tech in action, in the video below. Tubolito tells us that there are currently no plans to adapt the system for use in tubeless tires.