Posts Tagged ‘bike’
Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green. Our smartphones have become more than just an accessory — in some ways they’re an extension of ourselves — but we might want to rethink our relationship …
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Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.
Most of the world still runs on fossil fuels, but renewable energy is making big gains. Not only are renewables better for the environment, but they’re also becoming just as cost-effective as their dirtier counterparts. A new study finds that wind farms are less expensive than new coal-fired plants, and they cost about the same as new natural gas plants. Speaking of energy costs, Inhabitat shared a new infographic this week that shows how much it would cost for the entire world to switch over to renewable energy. In other energy news, the world’s largest solar thermal energy plant opened in California’s Mojave Desert. Once it’s operational, the plant will produce enough energy to power 140,000 homes. The largest photovoltaic plant in the world is set to be built in India, and it will produce 10 times as much energy as the next-largest solar plant in the country. And in another exciting development, a team of German and French scientists produced the world’s most efficient solar cell, which boats an efficiency of 44.7 percent.
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Developer Hammerhead Navigation thinks it has the solution to safer cycling: LEDs. It created a bike-mounted tool that does everything with its flashing diodes: turn-by-turn navigation, suggests crowd sourced-paths (via Strava and MapMyRide) and will even point you to the nearest Citibike exchange. The unit pairs with your iPhone or Android’s GPS to help find invisible bike trails through your city, and supposedly it can function without a data connection — perfect if you’re a desert cyclist. A $ 75 pledge ($ 70 if you act fast) will get you one gizmo, or a $ 140 promise will get you two. You like to spoil your riding buddy now and again, don’t you?
Electric bikes are becoming more popular as the cost to own one goes down, and the cost to own a gas-powered vehicle goes up. If you ask a true cyclist what they think of an electric bike, you might get your head bitten off, but there’s no doubt that there’s a market out there for them. Rubbee wants to appeal to that market with an easy conversion device that turns your existing bike into an electric one in just a few seconds.
The Rubbee is a portable, 14lb attachment for your existing ride that offers up to 15 miles of travel on a full charge with a top speed of 15 mph, thanks to a built-in battery pack of 20,000 mAh that chargers fully in around 2 hours. It’s an elegantly simple solution that easy installs and uninstalls without the need for wires and tools like a standard conversion kit, and it features a design intended to reduce wear on your bike’s wheel, which is used to charge the Rubbee’s battery pack through kinetic force. Plus, you can make sure that the tire doesn’t touch the Rubbee at all if you need a break during a ride.
It fits nearly every type of bike, and has an integrated rear LED for safety at night powered by the same battery that drives the wheels. The best part for people who want their bikes to still look like their bikes, however, is that it’s actually surprisingly minimal in terms of how it changes the look of a bike aesthetically.
The Rubbee is the product of a team of four co-founders with engineering expertise, and a background in electric vehicles, mechatronics and logistics. The London-based team has spent two years perfecting the Rubbee from its earliest prototype, and now says the Rubbee is ready to into full production, with proven suppliers on board to provide parts and assembly.
The most daunting aspect of the Rubbee is the price: £799 ($ 1,240 USD) is currently required to back at a level that includes pre-orders, which is around the same price as a dedicated e-bike will cost at some online distributors. But the Rubbee adds flexibility – buying an e-bike means you can’t also use it as a mountain bike, for instance, and you can share the Rubbee with a group pretty easily, too. Project funding closes in just four days, and the team still has to raise about £6,000 to reach its target, but this is just a first step for a tech that could become even more low-profile and consumer friendly.
Researchers from several Czech companies have managed to make a bicycle soar thanks to six motor-driven propellers. Looking like an over-sized quadrocopter drone, the bike was actually guided in a similar RC manner by scientists on the ground while a dummy rode in the pilot’s seat. The range of the contraption was severely limited by the small batteries needed to keep the already-chunky 200 pound weight down, and the device would obviously be difficult to operate on a bike path due to its ungainly size. Still, the developers said the project was more about the fulfillment of childhood dreams than any commercial aim — though we’re not sure even our wildest ET fantasies would compel us to make the leap.
[Image credit: Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images]
Source: Ceske Noviny
So far, the Pebble smart watch has done little besides offer up watch faces for users to tinker with, but the apps are starting to come in, and today marks the much-anticipated debut of early marquee partner RunKeeper. RunKeeper was an early player in the smartphone-based activity tracker market, and continues to be an industry leader. It was a natural partnership for both Pebble and RunKeeper, and now consumers get to see what the two can do together.
The new Pebble RunKeeper integration works with both Android and iOS apps, and provides the same functionality for both. RunKeeper CEO Jason Jacobs says that his company is very interested in the wearable tech market, and he believes that the key to cracking open a much broader audience for fitness and health tracking tech could be gadgets like the Pebble, which make it even easier to access and use information gathered by tools like RunKeeper.
“What’s really exciting for me is that what people were expecting was that it just makes it easier to have a RunKeeper controller on your wrist,” he said, describing the experience of the Pebble integration’s early beta testers. “But what they’re finding is not only can it do that, but it’s actually more powerful than an app because it’s starting to change the way they’re interacting with the data, it’s more seamless to their experience, it’s not disrupting their flow.”
Jacobs says RunKeeper’s thesis as a company is that that’s exactly what needs to happen in order to help this kind of activity tracker technology find wider purchase among a mainstream audience. “The data needs to be more actionable, and it needs to be proactively given to you so that you don’t need to hunt and look for it,” he said. The Pebble is a good way to achieve that, since it can surface any data that a smartphone, either Android or iPhone, can gather on its wrist-mounted display.
On the Pebble, RunKeeper will display pace, speed, and distance travelled and offer workout start and stop features. It can work with runs, and also bike rides and walks, and does everything most will need to get a lot more out of their smartphone supported workouts right away. It offers RunKeeper a way to compete with wearables like the Nike+ GPS sport watch, all the while allowing them to focus on the tech they do best, leaving hardware to more specialized partners.
“The software is really hard, and we think it’s a really big opportunity, and we want to be the best at the software piece,” Jacobs explained. “Part of that is pushing the phone’s capabilities so that you don’t need hardware, but part of that is also playing nice with all the best of breed hardware that comes out. In terms of being that best of breed hardware ourselves, it’s not in our roadmap or aspirations. It is in our road or aspirations to be a good neighbour.”
This version of RunKeeper for Pebble is just a start, Jacobs says, noting that during the development process they realized they could add in much more, like setting pace on the smart watch, setting distance targets and more. RunKeeper also worked closely with Pebble to get this particular integration developed, and says we’ll see similar UI elements used as other fitness tracking apps come on board. Future work could go into helping RunKeeper differentiate its experience further as the development ecosystem for Pebble progresses.
Jacobs leads me to believe that RunKeeper will be opportunistic about partnerships with hardware companies and other software efforts operating in the same general space, and this Pebble partnership is just one part of a larger strategy to try to find the key to cracking the mainstream market with a product that, while successful, has had more niche appeal up until now. The Pebble is also arguably a niche product, but taken together, it’s possible two things aimed at a very specific audience could combine in just the right way to attract a much broader following.
As a man who spends most of his time in his attic, it’s nice to hit the open roads, feel a little wind in your hair, and run over crack vials as you motor through downtown Manhattan. That’s exactly what I did yesterday as when I tried to ride an Hero Eco A2B Metro electric bike from Bay Ridge to our offices on Broadway, thereby cementing my love for electric bikes and this electric bike in particular.
The Metro, made by German manufacturer Hero Eco (formerly Ultra Motor), is a brutalist electric bike with a built-in battery and maximum speed of 20 MPH. It has pedals and a 7-gear shifter so it is technically considered a moped and does not require a motorcycle license and a built-in limiter ensures you don’t go roaring down the streets on this 80 pound machine.
The company has had these bikes in the US for a few years now but they are working on a complete rebranding – although the bikes will remain the same. You can see the brand new bikes on this absolutely awful webpage they’ve made. This particular model costs about $ 3,000 online but the build quality is excellent and the equipment – from the fat Kenda tires to the Shimano shifter – is acceptable enough. I noticed some bad reviews on Amazon complaining of damaged motors or tires and, although I didn’t experience these issues over the past week, I cannot speak for extensive use. In my 15 mile ride I saw solid performance and no skidding or fishtailing while accelerating. I did, however, experience a low battery and riding this thing home, even for a mile, on pedal power wasn’t great.
The bike is bit big but it’s still thin enough to ensure you don’t get entangled with other riders in tight paths. I found it worked great in tight quarters and, because it is in actuality just a bicycle with a hub motor, the other cyclists didn’t give me that much of a stink eye.
I’ve avoided looking at electric bikes of late because most of them look like motors strapped to 10-speeds. This is far different and, if I were to describe it in any way, it is the exact opposite of those foldable city bikes folks are riding. My kids, in fact, have taken to calling it Super Bike.
Hero Eco is finding its footing right now and also has sub-$ 2,000 models available, including their own version of the folding electric called the Kuo which retails for $ 1,599. The company is also now calling itself HeroEco and was formerly called Ultra Motor, so you may see a bit of confusing until their full rebranding.
What are you paying for? Well, you’re paying for a solid, welded frame, solid components, and excellent acceleration. The range isn’t too shabby and for a bit more you can add on a second battery for 20 miles of range. I could also imagine a user removing the governor – though I’m sure Ultra Motors doesn’t condone this. This isn’t a sport bike. I could really see it more as a bike for folks with a 10-15 mile commute who want to hit the open air a little and don’t want (that much) of a carbon footprint.
For many years, the potential of 3D printing has made tech geeks drool, however now we’re lastly starting to see the innovation graduate from a simple novelty into an extremely useful tool. Take, for instance, the tale of the 5-year-old boy who was born without fingers on his right hand but lately received a 3D-printed prosthetic hand. Thanks to its quick turn-around rates, the innovation additionally allows researchers to test multiple designs instantly. For instance, in Australia researchers are using 3D printers to produce even more efficient tags that could be made use of to track huge fish. At Cornell University, researchers are experimenting with making use of 3D printers to print food that could possibly be consumed by astronauts in space, and experts in Edinburgh successfully 3D-printed embryonic stem cells for the first time, demonstrating exactly how 3D-printing innovation can one day get rid of the demand for organ donation. In related news, experts were recently surprised to find kids’s cells residing in mother’s brains long after maternity.
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