A Bluetooth bicycle bell – so, what would that do? Well, in the case of the Blubel, it syncs with an app on your smartphone to provide navigational cues. Additionally, if you want to alert other users to hazards on your route, you just ring it as you would a regular bell.
Conceived by British cyclist Sasha Afanasieva, the Blubel is currently being developed with backing from IBM and the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre. Here's how it works …
Users start by indicating their destination on the app, then pressing "Go" on the screen. The paired Blubel device will then provide turn-by-turn directions, by sequentially flashing 12 LEDs on its top – upcoming turns are also announced by an audible buzz, so users don't need to be constantly glancing down to check.
Additionally, one LED will always indicate the heading of the final destination, so users know where they are in relation to it at all times. All of the LEDs flash when that destination is reached.
Once the bike is parked and the Blubel's water-resistant electronics module is removed by the user from its base, the app will display the bicycle's current location on a city map – you know, in case the person forgets where they parked. One charge of Blubel's battery is reportedly good for two weeks of use.
Given that city streets can be hazardous places for cyclists, users can alert one another to dangers such as tricky intersections or road construction, simply by ringing the bell. These rings are registered by the app. When a sufficient number of them occur in one location, that area is flagged as being risky, and may even be avoided on subsequent route maps.
If you're interested, Blubel is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of £40 (about US$58) will presently get you one, when and if they reach production.
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