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A better way to see bicyclists at night

A better way to see bicyclists at night

Posting in Design

Startup Revolights wants to make bicycle lighting look more like a car. With LEDs, an algorithm and some elbow grease, it may have stumbled on a clever design solution.

If you own a bike anywhere near an urban center, chances are your local government requires the use of reflectors and lights when riding at night.

It's a smart idea, but all the gear can get a bit unwieldy for someone who just wants to pick up a gallon of milk before the market closes.

Startup Revolights appears to have incorporated bicycle illumination in a far more logical way than simply attaching a lamp to the front fork and seat shaft of your ride.

Instead, the company moves the glow to the wheels with a rim-mounted tube of LED lights. Connected to a small, USB-rechargeable battery mounted on the hub, the lights rotate as you ride, blinking in a sequential pattern that indicates which direction the rider is moving in.

The idea is to mark bicycles more like automobiles: bright white lights up front that project onto the street, and red rear lights in back that, instead of indicating a simple brake function, actually slow down in sequence as the bicycle does in speed.

(How, you ask? By using a small magnet installed on the bike's fork that can detect the wheel's revolutions. The data is fed into an algorithm which then translates to light changes via the electronic system in the rim.)

There's a lot to like here. Aside from the visual feedback, a system offers a nice standard for two-wheeled commuters. While the current system is merely a prototype -- it could use some strengthening to handle real-world conditions -- the next step is to abandon the battery and allow the revolutions of the bike wheels to power the device. (Revolights, indeed.)

revolights. join the revolution. from revolights on Vimeo.

Partially an effort to bring familiarity to bike lights, partially a way to offer smarter visual feedback to motorists and other riders about the bike's motion, it's a nice alternative that looks good, too.

[via Fast.Co Design]

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure