I live in a city where cycling is an encouraged way to get around. That is once you have paid for the bike, helmet, parachute, lights and puncture repair kit (parachute?). Offices are also required to provide cycle storage and shower facilities for those of us who are cycling into work. For the cyclists out there we have received reports that the Chinese search giant, Baidu, is working on what has been called a ‘smartbike’, dubbed the DuBike. At face value, this sounds like it is to the humble bike what Android Wear is to the ordinary wristwatch. Baidu is often referred to as China’s Google and have provided the DuBike with all sorts of high tech equipment and features, which pairs up with your smartphone… But does not appear to be a true smartbike as it still relies on the smartphone.
These features have a definite bias towards sports fitness including various monitors for heart rate, pedal rate, peddle pressure and more. Between the DuBike and the smartphone application, it will monitor your health statistics, provide mapping directions, log your bike’s location and use this to recommend cycling routes or fitness programs. Not to mention that it also looks cool, from a non-cyclist perspective that is. Which gives it a certain appeal! Let’s hope that Baidu have given the smartbike some sophisticated security features to match the level of intelligence. To power the electronics, the bike has what’s described as a “self-generation hub that converts kinetic into electrical energy”, which can also be used to recharge your electronic devices. There does not appear to be any plans to provide a motorized version as this time but perhaps this is coming for version two.
The DuBike is one idea of what a futuristic, sensor-equipped bike is, but I can’t help feel it is missing a killer application. Built-in fitness monitoring is all well and good and the navigation services are handy too, but this is nothing that we have not seen on a smartwatch before. Not to mention that a smartwatch provides a more portable way of monitoring your fitness and activity. The trouble with a smartbike is that the operator needs to be responsible for staying on the pavement, so there isn’t much call for entertainment systems. There is perhaps scope for augmented reality systems although I daresay the same blinkered approach to driver aids might be applied to a pedal biker too. Nevertheless, as a proof of concept, the DuBike shows that we don’t always have to consider our fitness levels to be monitored by a conventional wearable device. Check out the video below for a better understanding of what is on offer.