Increasing number of technology advancements offer us a greater variety of electronic gadgets to install on our bikes. While lights become the apparent example, we also have electronic shifting and suspension systems, in addition to phone chargers and cycling computers. All of these are almost standalone items currently and receive power separately, sometimes working to cross purpose. Randall Jacobs and Kyle Manna are looking to change this with their OpenBike “connected bicycle ecosystem”.
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The basic idea behind OpenBike is to allow manufacturers build the basic network into the bikes and electronic manufacturers making products compatible with the system. The hardware features one central battery which is responsible for powering up all of the bike’s electronic devices, along with internally routed electrical wiring which runs from the battery to key locations such as handlebars.
This makes it unnecessary for companies to inculcate their own batteries when they design OpenBike compatible components. Similarly consumers will only have one battery to keep track off which can be removed to charge or can be charged through thermo dynamo, while paddling. OpenBike will come with its own communication protocol which will enable gadgets from different manufacturers to “talk” to each other.
An example of how this would work is how, data speed and GPS coordinates could be transferred from a cycling computer to an actioncam, where it would be stamped on the video. OpenBike comes with its own cloud-based server which provides internet connectivity for all gadgets requiring it. This could be immensely helpful for services such as rental fleet management and bike sharing cooperatives.
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A prototype has already been built by Jacobs and Manna in collaboration with Marin Bikes, which indicates some of the features that might be included. The prototype comes with a headlight, tail lights, turn indicators, a brake light, a phone mount with USB charging, and ambient light sensors which cause lights to automatically switch on as the sun goes down. The production version of the bike will be available by next year by Marin Bike. Concurrently Randall and Kyle are looking to establish partnership with other bike makers and electronic manufacturers.