If you're a bicycle commuter, then it's entirely likely that you regularly encounter a pothole, etc that makes you say "Why doesn't the city do something about this?". Well, first they have to know about it – and the Flare headlight is designed to tell them.
Flare was created by Jake Thompson, a product design student at the University of Sussex. And yes, it does also function as a straight-up headlight. It's water-resistant, and puts out 300 lumens for 2.5 hours per charge in Full Beam mode (there are also more energy-efficient Half Beam and Flash modes).
What sets it apart from other headlights, however, are three buttons on its back. When riders notice poor road surfaces such as potholes, they press the first button. When they encounter road dangers such as closely-passing traffic, they press the second button. And when they find themselves in risky and/or confusing intersections, they press the third.
Each time they press one of the buttons, the headlight uses Bluetooth to communicate with an app on their smartphone. That app notes the type of problem and its GPS coordinates. After their ride is over, users can review all of their alerts (known as Flares) and add comments or photos to them. The Flares are then uploaded to a dedicated website, where city officials and other Flare users can see them on a city map.
If enough complaints are made about specific problems, the city might just do something about them.
"The Danes have a website which highlights the most frequented and the most frustrating areas for cyclists, which helped inspire the Flare," says Jake. "The benefit of my design is that cyclists can report where they feel the cycling infrastructure is inadequate in real time at the moment they experience it, and it allows them to pinpoint the exact black spot."
Thompson is currently developing the technology for commercialization, and can be contacted via the Flare website. The system can be seen in use, in the following video.
Source: University of Sussex
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