OpenBike Charges Phones, Lights, and Connects Your Bike to the Cloud

OpenBike says their pedal-charged battery and in-bike network should be standard equipment

1 min read
OpenBike Charges Phones, Lights, and Connects Your Bike to the Cloud
Photo: OpenBike

OpenBike has not designed an electric bike. Let’s get that straight at the beginning. The company reimagined what should be standard equipment in pedal-powered bikes in an age of battery-powered-mobile-networked-everything.

Anybody who rides a bike to commute to work, or in a serious recreational way, probably has battery powered clip-on bike lights (and has forgotten to recharge them). He or she likely has a handlebar mount for a smart phone—that also needs recharging. And that phone might connect to a fitness bracelet or other kind of monitor, and send data about the ride to the cloud.

img OpenBike cofounder Randall Jacobs Photo: Tekla Perry

OpenBike cofounder Randall Jacobs says that lights, phone mounts, cloud communications, and more, should be standard on bicycles today, not a hodgepodge of add-on equipment. His company, OpenBike, launched at the Highway 1 hardware accelerator earlier this month, has designed a power and communications network to be built into bikes. At the center is a single battery recharges through pedal power. A USB port in the handlebars lets your phone charge as you ride; the battery also powers head and rear lights, an automatic brake light, and turn signals. The company intends to offer more sophisticated gadgets—like theft prevention and fitness tracking—as options, and expects more gear to be available for the system in the future.

Jacobs says the first products with the company’s technology will start coming out from Marin Bikes in 2017, adding about US$300 to the price of a model. Given that a set of good bike lights costs about $80 and a smartphone mount is about $20, that’s not crazy. And not having to remove and recharge those lights? Priceless.

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Special Report: Top Tech 2021

After months of blood, toil, tears, and sweat, we can all expect a much better year

1 min read
Photo-illustration: Edmon de Haro

Last January in this space we wrote that “technology doesn't really have bad years." But 2020 was like no other year in recent memory: Just about everything suffered, including technology. One shining exception was biotech, with the remarkably rapid development of vaccines capable of stemming the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year's roundup of anticipated tech advances includes an examination of the challenges in manufacturing these vaccines. And it describes how certain technologies used widely during the pandemic will likely have far-reaching effects on society, even after the threat subsides. You'll also find accounts of technical developments unrelated to the pandemic that the editors of IEEE Spectrum expect to generate news this year.

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