After Google’s Self-Driving Cars, Is a Samsung Smart Bike Next?


Samsung (SSNLF.PK) has unveiled its Smart Bike at a design trade show in Milan. According to DesignBoom, the bicycle is equipped with safety features that can be controlled via a Samsung smartphone. They include four laser beams that project an individual bike lane onto the road, an integrated GPS system, and a rearview camera that will stream a video feed to the Samsung phone, which the user would mount on the handlebars for easy access.

The phone can also display directions from the bike’s GPS unit, and turn the laser beams on and off. All of those features are controlled by an Arduino mounted in the bike’s frame, which is curved to reduce the vibrations caused by rough streets. The Smart Bike is described as “a computer you can ride” by Business Insider, which also reports that the bike is equipped with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The smart bike is the latest in a number of announcements pointing towards safety as the most popular focus of the tech currently being developed for transportation. BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) subsidiary QNX recently announced a new operating system for car safety and security. CNET reports that the QNX OS for Automotive Safety 1.0 will support features like a heads-up display, advanced driver assistance systems, and digital instruments. Collision warning systems manufactured by a number of different companies scan the road ahead to alert the driver and either prepare the braking system or automatically apply the brakes. And the premise of Google‘s (NASDAQ:GOOG) driverless cars is that taking human drivers out of the equation will eliminate drunk and distracted driving to result in safer (plus more convenient) transportation for everyone.

Google says that its most important consideration with a self-driving car is safety — something that it will test extensively in a trial run of 200 of the vehicles later this summer, as reported by the LA Times. And Fast Company reports that the cars have about 500 sensors, which Google says eliminate blind spots and detect objects in every direction for over 200 yards.

The driverless car is an extreme example, especially compared to Samsung’s Smart Bike, but both are part of the ongoing technological revolution that promises to transform safety for cars and other modes of transportation. Reuters reports that manufacturers will increasingly pair night vision and radar technologies with software that can help cars avoid accidents, pointing to the potential for electronics manufacturers, like Samsung and Google, to break into the competitive transportation industry.

It’s not clear whether Samsung’s Smart Bike will go into production, so it’s hard to judge whether it fulfills the ultimate goal of tech innovations for transportation: to provide better but cost-effective safety features. BlackBerry’s QNX operating system is a prime example, and reduces car manufacturers’ costs by providing a platform with features and software already compliant with specific safety certifications, streamlining the process of obtaining those certifications.

A post on the website of Samsung’s Maestros Academy, the initiative that saw frame builder Giovanni Pelizzoli building the bike with Academy student Alice Biotti, says that the bike aims to create a “safety environment” that will act automatically to protect riders in real time. That safety environment allows the bike to use the paired smartphone’s brightness sensor to figure out when to switch the laser beams on and off. Additionally, the bike’s GPS system will be able to track users’ routes and inform authorities as to which should be turned into official bike lanes.

Samsung might be eyeing a move into the electronic systems that allow car safety features to operate. It’s the same outcome expected of Google’s experiment with driverless cars. Google isn’t likely to manufacture an entire car itself; it’s more likely to be looking to figure out and then eventually supply the software that can run a driverless car. And while the unveiling of the Smart Bike may not herald the immediate arrival of new products or projects, it does mean that Samsung is paying attention to the area of safety technology, and knows how ripe for innovation the area will be over the next few years.

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