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A Bike Taillight that Goes Beyond Mere Taillighting (Video) 86

Posted by Roblimo
from the a-bike-light-that-plays-pong-on-your-back dept.
Meet David. Tim Lord ran into him at the 2014 Maker Faire Bay Area. He didn't have a display, and he wasn't obviously trying to sell anything or promote a Kickstarter campaign. He was just walking around with a panel full of LEDs that he wears as a backpack while riding his bike, which beats the heck out of regular bike taillights, even the blinky flashy ones a lot of us have these days. So good on you, David. This is your three minutes of Slashdot fame -- and please note, people, that you can now fast-forward through any preroll ads longer than 30 seconds, so you won't get bombed with multi-minute ads to watch a three minute Slashdot video. (Alternate video link)

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A Bike Taillight that Goes Beyond Mere Taillighting (Video)

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  • by xmas2003 (739875) * on Friday May 30, 2014 @05:27PM (#47132163) Homepage
    As a fan of lights myself, that's pretty darn awesome - great job David.

    Bummer the video didn't have any product demonstrations in low light while on a bike ...
    • It was a bit hard to see in the video... and I think it needs to be a little bit brighter in any case, even in daylight a good bike light is clearly visible.

      Note to cyclists: as a motorist who often drives down poorly lit country roads with lots of bicycle and car traffic, I see many cyclists with poor illumination, namely those poxy blinky LED lights. The blinking red ones are hard to see and the blinky front ones usually are *way* short on power, and hard to see during dusk or dawn. Please get one tha
      • A kid in my town was skateboarding and he was hit by a drunk driver. hit and run, driver gtfo'd. kid was 20. driver was 17. I don't think an LED would have helped him, no matter how bright.
        • It might have saved him, if the drunk driver would have spotted him earlier because of it. Besides, good illumination is not about making you safe from any and all accidents, it's about vastly improving your odds in situations that can potentially turn into an accident.
      • It was a bit hard to see in the video... and I think it needs to be a little bit brighter in any case, even in daylight a good bike light is clearly visible. Note to cyclists: as a motorist who often drives down poorly lit country roads with lots of bicycle and car traffic, I see many cyclists with poor illumination, namely those poxy blinky LED lights. The blinking red ones are hard to see and the blinky front ones usually are *way* short on power, and hard to see during dusk or dawn. Please get one that doesn't blink and puts out a good amount of light. I'd hate to damage my car again... (and in NL, the motorist pretty much always pays)

        lucky you. I live in Italy, where usage is low, but authorities have an hardon to increase bike usage. Pity that in their enthusiastic laissez faire attitude they do not enforce any kind of behaviour on cyclists, so in the dark you simply try to avoid dark shapes against a darkish background. Tonight, out of about twenty bikers, 1 (one) had a working light set but he was cycling on the wrong side, the rest were practically invisible, without even reflectors, and two were cycling in the dark side by side. s

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by emj (15659)

          I do expect my investment in an onboard camera to pay off, unfortunately, when one of these bumbling fools gets too darn close for comfort. Sorry, but stupidity should pay a price in real life. Why should I get stuck with the bill because I drive carefully and you do not?

          Well you are driving around in a massively dangerous thing that destroys the lives of so many people, that's why you should pay when you hit a person. Because when cars are driven too fast, anything above 30 km/h, they kill people.

          • Well, the thing is, roads do not ban bikes from them. And bikes are obliged to follow much of the same laws as cars, at the least for driving. Not safety.

          • I do expect my investment in an onboard camera to pay off, unfortunately, when one of these bumbling fools gets too darn close for comfort. Sorry, but stupidity should pay a price in real life. Why should I get stuck with the bill because I drive carefully and you do not?

            Well you are driving around in a massively dangerous thing that destroys the lives of so many people, that's why you should pay when you hit a person. Because when cars are driven too fast, anything above 30 km/h, they kill people.

            Lol ! you are the perfect example. in what universe one race can flout all existing laws, an as a consequence the other race is stuck with more laws, and it had many more to comply to begin with?
            where I live, there are bike only lanes physically separate from car lanes. I am more likely to spot Godzilla reading a sport magazine at my cocktail bar than a cyclist using them.
            for a start, all those who use a racing cycle will never use a cycle lane. it's not as clean a car lane, where the traffic gets rid o

      • by xorsyst (1279232)

        So yes - those blinky ones are great for spotting in periphery vision, but terrible for tracking the movement of the cyclist. You really MUST have a solid rear light if cycling in the dark. A blinky one as well is good, but the solid makes all the difference.

    • by mellon (7048)

      I would worry that you'd do something to distract or offend a driver behind you with this thing and get hit. I'm not convinced that it's a safety win. It's definitely a fun hack, though.

      • by markdavis (642305)

        I agree totally. It might get one seen, but it is distracting to the point it probably would be very dangerous for the wearer.

  • Sorry, Dice. Suck on a chode.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Got two Monkey Lights on my rear wheel that light up pretty good as I commute on Tokyo's streets, no need for any backpack or such.

  • seems bulky (Score:4, Insightful)

    by epyT-R (613989) on Friday May 30, 2014 @05:41PM (#47132243)

    Seems a bit big and bulky for a bicycle rider, where every ounce counts.

    • Re:seems bulky (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 30, 2014 @05:51PM (#47132327)

      Seems a bit big and bulky for a bicycle racer, where every ounce counts.

      Fixed that for you. For us non-racers, a few extra pounds isn't a big deal, especially when you're already carrying a backpack with a laptop or books or groceries or whatever.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        I ride too. Every ounce does count when riding long distances, especially when you've got a backpack on.

        • Re:seems bulky (Score:4, Interesting)

          by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Friday May 30, 2014 @07:24PM (#47133011) Journal

          Define "Long Distance"?

          Heck, I always have a backpack on when I ride. It has spare tubes, tools, extra water, phone, etc. When I bike to work, it also has a soda, office keys, and some clothes for when I get to work.

          The ride to work is 15 miles. I wouldn't call that "long distance." But I've done 60 mile rides with the backpack and no problems. I'm doing a 100 mile ride in a few weeks and I'll definitely have the backpack.

          C'mon--toughen up! :^D

        • Re:seems bulky (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mellon (7048) on Friday May 30, 2014 @08:41PM (#47133401) Homepage

          Do people actually ride bicycles long distances with a backpacks on? Haven't y'all heard of panniers?

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          No every ounce counts when you want to get somewhere fast with minimum effort. If you want long distance riding you should take a look at what some of the professional tourers do. Some of the features of one bike I saw on display:

          - Steel alloy frame won't crack at the first sign of a jolt, and easy to repair with a welder.
          - Large tyres with thick rubber to ride over glass, rocks and other nasties.
          - Internal gear hubs (hub is heavier than both of my racing wheels + tires combined).
          - HID headlamps and large l

        • Dunno 'bout you, but I'm on a bike to get somewhere. Getting there safely -- which paying some costs in weight for better lighting, thicker rims, and a frame built of high-grade steel (with its far safer failure modes than aluminum or carbon fiber) supports -- is more important than a few extra seconds that will probably be spent waiting at a stop light anyhow (and yes, I do put my foot down at stop lights, because my priority is safety, not shaving off seconds). Sure, I'm carrying a little more weight and
    • IM working with an 8x8 grid of these RGB LEDs right now on my desk from adafruit. That thing is a huge mess. First of all i would have used sewable pixels, not some box strapped to my back. I dont want to knock his work, maybe he designed it a while ago, but it seems unnecessarily bulky.
    • Seems a bit big and bulky for a bicycle rider, where every ounce counts.

      It's a prototype. That design lends itself to mas production. You could have that produced as a 1/4" thick flexible mat that weighed less than a few ounces and could be priced under $10. It would be pretty easy actually.

  • Drunk drivers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fizzer06 (1500649) on Friday May 30, 2014 @05:42PM (#47132247)
    They are attracted to flashing lights and will home in on this like a June bug to a porch light. Having said that, it looked very well done.
    • Re:Drunk drivers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NoKaOi (1415755) on Friday May 30, 2014 @08:44PM (#47133429)

      Not just drunk drivers. Any driver can be easily distracted. A driver who is distracted from other things going on around them is also very dangerous to you, even if you're the source of their distraction. The goal should be maximum visibility without distraction, not maximum visibility caused by maximum distraction. Pong, smiley faces, and the occasional word? Yeah, that's meant to be distracting.

      • Oh, come on. Only if it's one person standing out from the crowd. If everybody had multicolored flashing lights as tail lights, it wouldn't be distracting at all.

  • check out what these croatian guys are doing with integrated bicycle technology: their Visiobike is perhaps alittle ahead of its time, but i'd get one. see their indiegogo campaign at igg.me/at/visiobike looks like they need our support.
  • I'm pretty sure the legality of this in use on the road using animations or any colour other than red is questionable at best.
  • by pecosdave (536896) on Friday May 30, 2014 @06:02PM (#47132419) Homepage Journal

    You could get an old laptop display, or even a tablet, be it Android or iProduct and beat this thing in every way. But you can't see a tablet well in the sunlight? I think it's obvious from this video you can't see that thing in the daylight either.

    I'm not knocking the guys ability or talents, but he invented the light display AFTER the Jumbotron came out.

    I'm a cyclist, I think things like Monkey lights are incredibly awesome, I think the new inner rim lights are great, but this isn't on point.

  • And this is supposed to be impressive how?
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Friday May 30, 2014 @06:05PM (#47132441) Homepage

    What problem is this solving?

    which beats the heck out of regular bike taillights

    It "beats the heck" out of them? Well, thanks for that devastatingly insightful exposé of the limitations of existing bike lights.

    "Instead of having a blinking red light, which is very boring..."

    Heaven forfend that my blinking red light should bore a driver.

  • "and please note, people, that you can now fast-forward through any preroll ads longer than 30 seconds"
    Or, and this may just be a popular opinion with some users, you can shove that video up your ass and I won't watch it at all because fuck you, you money-grubbing assholes. Oh and thanks for the bottom screen ad blocking everything. That's a nice improvement to slashdot too.
  • Flashing lights undoubtedly draw the attention of people behind them on the road.

    The problem is they do their job too well and become mesmerizing, drawing attention away from actually driving. People become so focused on the lights they don't realise that they're driving dangerously close to the bike, they start to slowly edge onto the wrong side of the road or they simply miss hazards up ahead.

    Lots of drivers dislike even simple blinking red lights because of this. This 'jumbotron' will actually make
  • by uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) on Friday May 30, 2014 @06:15PM (#47132523)

    Aye, verily, the olde-fashioned stylings of words offendeth me, so I cutteth them out.

  • Smaller, lighter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday May 30, 2014 @06:17PM (#47132545)
    Build it into the flexible backpack, instead of a hard flat panel. Oh wait, now I have to have that particular backpack all the time, instead of something attached to he bike.
    I get it...more lights are not a bad thing. But I'm not going to ride around being a billboard. I just want people to see me and not hit me.
    • But I'm not going to ride around being a billboard.

      Says the guy with the bike shirt covered in various company logos...

      If I'm going to ride around being a billboard, I'm sure as hell getting paid for it.

      • I have exactly zero logo bike shirts.
        Oh wait...I have one. It promotes my local bike shop, owned by a friend of mine. Who gives me discounts.
    • by kybred (795293)

      Or a shirt/vest with the electronics and battery in pockets.

  • The technology here is cool, but the last thing I want to do on my bike is wear a backpack. Even on short rides, it seals the heat in and guarantees a sweaty back.

    These are a bit flashy for me, but they're wheel mounted and pretty cool looking:

    http://www.monkeylectric.com/ [monkeylectric.com]

    az0
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      These are a bit flashy for me, but they're wheel mounted and pretty cool looking:

      Great. How do those help drivers see you from behind? Did you get paid for that link? If so, you're ripping someone off. That's a shitty way to make a link.

      • I did not get paid in any way for that link. I have no relationship with that company or product. I don't even own it, since as I said, it's too flashy for me. I'm just an avid bike rider who remembered a kickstarter for a similar device. Do you criticize every comment that links to a product relevant to the story?

  • Why is he proposing a hard enclosure for this? It would be a lot more practical (not to mention more convenient and lighter) to sew these into the covering flap of a messenger bag or similar (like he had), using easily-obtainable RGB LEDs on flexible PCB strips (like he was using) that are already sealed and watertight. The only difficulty would be sealing the connecting points, but that wouldn't be too much of an issue, and if you're going whole hog and making from the SMT parts up (instead of repurposing

  • If some more professional research and design was put into this it could be extremely useful for motorcyclists. When most people drive they're mostly just looking for other cars and a motorcyclist that looks extremely visible to a dashboard cam in the aftermath of an accident can easily go unnoticed by an inattentive driver. Something like a large red light bar at the top of the backpack that could triggered by the motorcycle's front and/or rear brake could give a night time rider a more similar profile to
  • ..as they say on Dragon's Den. Engineer this down to *cloth* and I might be interested. So I can roll it up and stuff it in my backpack. And make it not black when the batteries fail. And make it only slightly more expensive than one of those hi-viz cyclist vests. What? They give those away for free? Could you sell one of these things for $5/£5 and still make a profit?

    For a fiver I could wrap my bike and myself in reflective material and not have to worry about batteries.

  • please check back later :(

  • Just checking in to remind everyone not to use this gadget in the great city of Boston, MA [wikipedia.org]

  • I'm David, the guy in the video. Thanks, Tim, for posting! Since you couldn't really see what the patterns on the LED were, here's a video of it in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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