August 16, 2010
by Mark Ollig
What do you get when you combine the technology of an Apple iPhone, iPod or other high-tech intelligent mobile device with a bicycle?
You get a highly advanced and intelligent “smart bicycle.”
Let’s just name it what it is – an iBike.
Here’s the latest tech news from your up-to-the-minute “gee whiz” technology columnist, who forces you to ask the question: “What’s he ranting about now?”
It seems those brainy inventors behind the Apple computer technology curtain are about to peddle out a new “iProduct” concept to the public.
Throughout your modest (but humble) columnist’s research, he became aware of what can be called Apple’s “smart bike” patent application.
The US Patent & Trademark Office recently published Apple’s patent application for “integrating a portable electronic device with a bicycle.”
Apple Inc.’s US Patent Application number is 20100198453.
The patent application consists of 105 written paragraphs and detailed patent application drawings showing the combination of a pedal-powered bicycle with connected iPhone/iPod or similar technology.
The technology provides much detailed information covering many separate categories to the cyclist (user) via the numerous attached electronic sensors.
These electronic sensors would be connected to different components of the bicycle in order to provide current status information.
This status information would be collected and displayed to the cyclist and also could be shared with others.
Sensors would be also utilized for monitoring the environment surrounding the bicycle.
Various types of sensors, such as “hall effect magnetic field sensors” (a type of electronic device used to time the speed of wheels, for example), would be used on the bicycle and integrated with an intelligent onboard computer device.
Apple states any suitable type of sensor could be used to determine one or more of the performance conditions to be measured, including locating the bicycle in the event it is stolen.
Some of the information displayed to the cyclist includes comparing the cyclist's own riding performance against past performances, elevation of the current bike trail, power generation created by the cyclist, along with calories burned.
Current and forecasted weather and temperature readings would also be displayed.
The removable informational display screen the cyclist would see could be attached to the bike’s handlebars or worn on an armband. The display could also be embedded securely into the handlebars of the bike.
The data collected from the smart bike could also be transmitted wirelessly.
The intelligent display would collect information not only from the bicycle and cyclist, but from outside sources as well. GPS would be used for positioning, and there could also be a connection to the Internet, which would allow an almost endless list of potential application possibilities for the gathering and sharing of information relevant to the cyclist and the bike.
A touch screen would allow for the cyclist to select pre-configured options from a menu.
Apple listed some of these options: Riding Characteristics - option 302, Map - option 304, Workout - option 306, Share - option 308, and in honor of living in the Twitter age, Apple has option 310 - Instant Messaging.
Apple’s patent information addresses some of the possible types of smart bike display screens which could be used.
Apple says any appropriate type of display screen for presenting information could be built into the bike.
The cyclist will be able to chart their own bike trails on a map or view available bike courses, check on the progress of other cyclists traveling on the same or a different bike path.
The cyclist could instantly look at real-time online reviews for the bike path he or she is currently traveling on.
The smart bike’s display would provide the cyclist an indication of any hazards along the route being ridden – in addition to the bike path’s elevation and incline conditions.
Recent comments from other cyclists about the path could be viewed as text, heard audibly or watched as a video presentation.
Paragraph 96 in Apple’s patent application abstract states “. . . the electronic device, display, or another component on the bicycle can include a camera or lens for capturing real-time images of the user’s face as he rides, and for transmitting the real-time images, accompanied with audio.”
Cyclists riding within a group could wirelessly “network” their smart bikes to transmit and receive shared communications among themselves and to also communicate with other folks outside of their cycling group such as friends or family members.
Apple says by using these communications methods, different riders in a group could more easily coordinate cycling strategies among each other when they are participating in a race, for example.
Apple’s US Patent Application is titled: “Systems and Methods for Integrating a Portable Electronic Device with a Bicycle.”
You can read the complete wording of Apple Inc.’s patent application number: 20100198453 filed with the US Patent Office at this shortened link I created: http://tinyurl.com/253jus3.
Bikes sure have come a long way from the old “Coast King” bicycle my dad bought for me at the Winsted Coast to Coast hardware store in the late 1960’s. On that bike I had fastened a transistor AM radio to the handlebars.
I should have applied for a patent on that idea.