SmartHalo & Blaze Smartlights: integration of general use products on shared bikes
10 November, 2017
What a surprise for me when I saw this photo on the PBSC Urban Solutions’ website:
Yes, the well-known Montreal-based provider added an option of a smart equipment from the customer market to its bikes! That’s one of the most intelligent and ambitious integration on a shared bike to my knowledge.
SmartHalo is a smart device that you connect to your phone via Bluetooth. It has main features:
- Navigation: it communicates with the app to provide either the directions to your destination, or a simple compass.
- Light: a front light is included
- Security: a movement sensor activates an alarm if it is on
- Fitness: you can set goals in the app, the device will show the percentage of fullfillment
- Assistant: Call and SMS notifications
The project has been launched thanks to Kickstarter, and met a huge success, raising 538 723 CA$ (361 000€/425 000US$) in just one month! And (guess what) they are based in Montreal…
That made the collaboration an evidence, and discussion started in summer 2015 between Xavier Peich (SmartHalo) and Luc Sabbatini (PBSC Urban Solutions). According to PBSC Urban Solutions, recent tests from the R&D dpt validated the product, powered with a classic 3W Shimano dynamo. Some minor changes have been done to adapt the product to the bike-share use:
- a specific waterproof body, to integrate the device with the handlebar cover.
- the removal of the front light feature (as bikes are already equiped)
As the intelligence is brought by the user smartphone through Bluetooth LE, PBSC Urban Solutions emphasize that the possibilities are huge for a city equiped: GPS, development of touristic circuits through the app, social and cultural interaction with the rider, data collection…
PBSC confirmed the launch of pilot projects in 2 of “its” North American cities in 2018. 250 bikes will be supervised, in order to validate the SmartHalo functioning, and to monitor the usage with data collection through the app. Can’t wait for the results!
And then, a couple of days before publishing this article, a reminder arrived :
Today the new London @SantanderCycles launched with our new smart lights! Read all the new exciting features via > https://t.co/Dq538Paxxn pic.twitter.com/IQyhtGZAiv
— Blaze. (@blazefeed) 30 octobre 2017
Just on time! Blaze was founded in 2012 with the success of its Kickstarter project, raising 55000£ (72000US$/62000€) in just a month. In 2015, Transport for London launched a trial together with Blaze to evaluate the benefits of the Laserlights on cyclists safety (a PBSC project, again), with 250 bikes. And well, the results were good enough for the authority to sign a 860 000£ contract (around 75£/bike) with the start-up, agreeing to equip all the brand new 11500 Santander bikes, which just started hitting the streets. On the other side of the Atlantic, New York’s Citi bikes adopted the same strategy in january 2017 with a 250 bikes trial. Let’s hope the conclusions will be the same…
Blaze Smartlights are an adaptation of Blaze Laserlight and Blaze Burner, with additional features for bike-sharing. The Laserlight is a innovative… laser light, projecting a bicycle image a couple of meters in front of the bike. It allows the cyclist to create its own cycle lane, and to alert other road users of its presence. It is used together with the rear. The rear Burner light integrates a brake light, making the ride even safer.
According to Blaze, the system also integrates specific data-related features for bike-sharing use:
- Data brain gathers insights around journey to make bike share schemes smarter, safer and more efficient
- Innovative new data collection features can be unlocked to enhance bike share schemes
Great Job. But what are exactly this “data brain” and “data collection features” that might change the way of operating a bike-share scheme? What we know:
- A GPS, an accelerometer and atmospheric sensors are integrated
- They are not used for now
- All the data will be managed through a mysterious CyTek platform
With SmartHalo and Blaze Smartlights, infinite possibilities of data collection and interaction with the user now exist. But it might take quite a while before some cities are eager and find the resources to exploit all these data.
A big thank to M. David Saint-Germain, from PBSC Urban Solutions, for the interesting talk.
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