Friday, September 24, 2010

Bicycle That Helps People and the Environment

The September issue of CACM (Communications of the ACM) has an interesting article on the development of a computing driven bicycle that helps people, cities and the environment. It has truly interdisciplinary application, including roles as an augmented exercise device, rider safety enhancer, social networking tool, aid to urban planning and a possible tool to help fight climate change. The bike, which recharges itself when the rider brakes, is loaded with technical goodies.

There is a Bluetooth device in the wheel hub and a smartphone on the handlebars. Information can be communicated to the rider about different routes, problem areas to avoid, potholes, etc. The rider can also communicate with other riders who are using the same type of bike - mobile computing goes mobile in a whole new way.

But the really cool technology is a group of sensors that collect information on carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, temperature, humidity and noise. The data is stored for review later (presumably so the rider doesn't crash from trying to read it while moving).  The data can be transmitted to city planners, urban designers and scientists working on climate change. Here is a brief snippet giving a glimpse of how the data can be used:

"The data can be cross referenced with information about land use at various points along the urban planners identify heat islands...pinpoint areas suffering from noise pollution or a concentration of exhaust fumes"

Not coincidentally, the bike, which is currently being piloted in Copenhagen, was introduced at the Copenhagen Climate Conference as part of a project to decrease auto ridership and increase bicycle commuting. It is very exciting to see that one of the primary concerns of the developers is to address an environmental problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment