Affordable, highly capable, and open-source computing hardware, such as the increasingly popular Raspberry Pi, continues to have its innovative influence on the maker world. Take, for instance, Matt Richardson, the Brooklyn-based maker, video producer, and writer, who hasn’t taken the onset of these devices lightly by the looks of all of the crafty gadgets he’s built.
This time, Richardson shows off his newly-assembled tech gear that straps onto his mountain bike and projects his real-time riding speed on the ground as he rides around the streets of New York at night.
Matt Richardson rides around the streets of Brooklyn with his new Raspberry Pi-powered headlight projection device. (Source: Matt Richardson)
The device is very much still a working prototype, but its potential for bike-riding glory speaks for itself. To detect the bike’s moving speed, a Hall sensor is attached near the front wheel of the bike. Hall sensors vary their output voltage according to changing nearby magnetic fields, and thus can be used for speed detection and proximity sensing applications.
This sensor is wired up to a breadboard that sits on a piece of balsa wood; the wood is strapped between the top, down, and seating tubes of the bike (the middle, triangular section of the bike) with a few pieces of velcro straps to keep it from moving. From the breadboard, another wire is hooked up to a Raspberry Pi that is powered by an onboard USB cellphone battery pack charger. Finally, an HDMI cable runs along the tubes and up onto the bike’s handlebars where a small, downward-facing projector is clamped.
The result of Richardson's invention is a high-tech headlight capable of projecting a rider’s current speed. Since this is only the first prototype, Richardson (in the video below) says he will be working on packing the components into a single piece rather than laying them out on a piece of balsa wood. He also hints at future iterations that will include GPS integration and the addition of an animated projection mode.
It will be interesting to see what the future iterations of this project will integrate. Fellow makers have already suggested options: using the projector for navigation via Google maps, heart rate monitoring, distance traveled calculations, and strapping on a dynamo to energize the onboard battery charger.
That is the key, isn't it, naperlou? Right now, the technology forces the driver to look down, instead of ahead. Someone needs to do a study on how long it takes your eyes to look at the display and then re-focus on the road ahead. In vehicles, I think it's always been assumed that it takes 0.4 seconds for a driver's eyes to look down at the speedometer and then return to the road. Head-up displays were able to reduce that figure. A bike, however, goes slower than a car, so the readjustment time doesn't translate to as many feet travelled.
I have a few Raspberry Pi boards... I only wish they had a little more power. Something on par with the recent Smartphones. Then the Pi would be a DIY behemoth. PIC/ARM/and Arduino dev boards still rule the roost for the most part.
Also, aside from a head's up display, I hope they add some way to project warnings on the road to alert automobile drivers. Then, they have a great HUD system for bikes..
@jmiller, you raise a good question. Perhaps the speed could just be displayed on an LCD. What is more important in cities is to see jerks behind you. Perhaps we need a rear-facing camera that flips the image right/left (as a mirror would) and displays the picture above the handle bars. Hmm, but why not just use a mirror? Maybe some value add could be brought in here using the Raspberry Pi that a mirror could not -- other sensors perhaps.
I think there are already plenty of different options that help maximize our vision and things like that. I see this and other improvements that are an effort to extend the current human abilities. Stop the bike faster than a human. Or see something that humans can't see. Make a prediction on the facts or surroundings that cause a precautionary response faster than we as humans can do it. I think it's possible but wonder about the costs and value.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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