Friday, 22 April 2016

Real IoT 2016: Smart Bicycle

Smart bikes Internet of things 2016

Let's get this over with: Real IoT smashes Kickstarter goals. And the speed-x smart aero bike is at over $2M when its goal was $50k....
What separates the Speed-X out is how it integrates technology: lights, cables, diagnostics
Now the bike, as you can see is handsome, however it has not yet taken me from my present road rides for two reasons:
  1. I just bought 2 road bikes and completely overhauled a 3rd in the space of just over a year
  2. It still does not have a SIM in it, more on this below.
But I still have time :)

So what is the attraction? Well bike owners hate being like my friend, let's call him X. X has everything on his bike, saddle bags, day and night lights even in the day, a cycle computer mounted off to one side, the original bell and reflectors that came with the bike: you name it, the bike looks like a shop accessory demo. At the other end you have cyclists, especially roadies (I am both road and mountain, well actually anything with pedals) even think its important to have the tyre logos and wheel logos match up, and don't even get me started on matching zip-up overshoes...

So to have all this in one integration is good. And then there is the cabling and the data. Power meters go some way to help, as they have cadence built in, but even Shimano Di2 needs a separate connector to tell you what gear you were in. this would be OK if the industry had not made us all buy new frames and electronic gears to get rid of cables in the first place. Its a bit like trying to console a child that winning is not important when they have lost 10-2: well, if you teach them how to count, they are gonna know they lost and it sucks.
Having one integrated device measure everything is a key part to bike IoT, but its missing a second ingredient still...
So on to why I did not pledge one of these yesterday (but still can tomorrow lol). Well here she is:
You cannot beat a custom build, in my case a custom s-works; but its not electronics are not integrated; and that's a problem.
For those of you who are not cyclists, here are 5 important electronics, integrated as best I can:
  1. A power metre in the crank, from Rotor, which talks to my Garmin cycle computer via ant+
  2. Electronic gears, Shimano Di2, which could talk to my Garmin via ant+ if I buy an extra dongle and cable and attach it to the very frame that I was sold as an upgrade to my old top of the range, even lighter Tarmac, due to integrated cabling...
  3. the Garmin computer mentioned above, note I have splashed out on a Garmin mount to have it more aero because, as per point 2: #aeroiseverything.
  4. An Exposure Use Flash rear light with saddle mount, to be as tucked away as possible, but is essential even in the daytime, as we still have people on the roads in the Uk who think its ok to be in charge of a 2 tonne plus vehicle distracted by phones, cigarettes and more with the "sorry guv, I dinna see you there" excuse.... 
  5. two GSM trackers you cannot see in the picture as they are inside the frame.
So while Ant+ and Bluetooth here gives me all the big data I need, there is still the little data IoT I am missing. Just like the trakdot, I would happily pay $20+ dollars per year to Rotor to have a SIM in the crank, that with the 300 hour battery, which I am ok with now being 200 hours, will sit there unconnected, with no battery drain until one of three things happen: 1) my battery is low, I do not want to do my most epic ride with no data, 2) I do not come back from a ride and am lying in a ditch somewhere, 3) some little toe rag takes my bike.

I would also happily pay those same $20+ per year to Shimano to have a SIM in the Di2 that makes sure my battery is never down when I do my epic ride and, yes, as a back-up to the unsavory points above of distress or theft.

This is where people get confused with Big Data and little data and say: well we could have ant+ do that, and the answer is: yes to battery alert, but it will most likely be just as I get on the bike for the big ride and there is not much I can do, and it still does not solve the huge issue of stolen bikes and being trackable way after the Garmin has run out of batteries or bluetooth has disconnected, or it went flying into the rod in my fall and was run over by 50 cars by now...
Just some of the tracking devices I use on my bikes, but these should be integrated into the other electronics for real IoT
Then finally there is the issue of the fact that thieves get wise to trackers, and they can go in the nearest river / bin / etc. Try pulling a crankset and gear wiring off of a bike in a getaway and still have a saleable swag :)

I am confident, from the conversations I am having both via my IoT Consultancy Virtuser and the IoT enabler Conecto that I co-founded, where we are having conversations about embedding SIMs in luggage, bikes, skis and more, from 1 SIM to millions of SIMs that this is the year of embedded bikes.

The SIM comes into its own in that you can use location APIs and 2G to get months of battery where GPRS and GPS give you weeks, or weeks where the latter gives only days or hours of connectivity, and this is important, not only for the points made above, but also for the revenue stream of $20+ per year per millions of subs by adding a chip to an existing device hat costs much less.