Their goals are similar: minimize the dangers that bike riders face at night – making it easier for them to see the road while making it easier for motorists to see their bikes on the road.
Strobe lights are already available, however, they don’t offer much in aiding the bicyclist’s vision, only that of the driver – and some have complained that such strobe lights are distracting and dangerous.
Two sophomores in industrial design at Carnegie Mellon University, Jonathan Ota and Ethan Frier, are using a research grant to develop the Aura system – a lighting concept that incorporates tri-color LEDs embedded into both rims. A dynamo generator built into the front hub powers them. A handlebar-mounted power switch allows riders to turn the system off when riding in the daytime.
The two students are now busy trying to commercialize Aura. “We wanted to make a cool product that people will want to use, and in the process of using it, will make them safer,” said Ota.
Meanwhile in California, inventor Kent Frankovich has teamed with partners Adam Pettler and Jim Houk to develop their Revolights system, attempting to raise launch money on Kickstarter. Revolights uses two hooped assemblies containing eight LEDs that clip onto a bicycle’s existing rims. The LEDs are powered by hub-mounted lithium-ion battery packs. The lights blink on and off at a rate set by the speed of the turning wheels. In turn, result in the front half of the front wheel and the rear half of the rear wheel are lit and assist the bicyclist in better seeing the road.
There are differences between Aura and Revolights. Aura is used in conjunction with regular headlights and taillights. Revolights, on the other hand, is intended to serve as the complete road lighting system.
Frankovich and partners are attempting to raise funds from prospective customers so they might commercially develop the product development of Revolights. They expect it to be available by the end of the year, for a suggested price of US$220.
Should you want your lit-up rims other companies sell LED valve stem caps, along with LEDs that attach to the base of the spokes.
Regardless, congratulations are in order for both of these safety and lighting innovations.
Photo: Kent Frankovich – Kickstarter