The Bikesphere, a high-tech laser safety ring, could be the future of biking

Michelin's Bikesphere can make roads safer for cyclists.
Source: Michelin
Michelin's Bikesphere can make roads safer for cyclists.
Source: Michelin

Riding a bike is dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say bicyclists are at greater risk of injury and death caused by a crash than those in cars. In 2015, there were 467,000 bicycle-related injuries in the United States and over 1,000 fatalities.

Now, Michelin has greenlit an open source project that could change cyclist safety. The concept, called Bikesphere, is simple: a double laser spotlight cast on the ground guides both drivers and bicyclists on how to share the road.

The Bikesphere is a spherical device that sits between the handlebars of a cycle. The technology uses a light sensor and a proximity detecting sensor, which work together to evaluate a cyclist’s surroundings and emit a red halo of light.

The Bikesphere is a spherical device that sits between the handlebars of a cycle.
Source: Michelin

In daylight, the Bikesphere serves as a traditional bike lamp that automatically turns on when you travel through dim-lit areas.

In the night, the Bikesphere casts a single-lined red sphere that circles around you and your bicycle throughout your entire journey. When a vehicle approaches your proximity, the laser intensifies: the single line turns into a double line and spins faster to notify both the individual behind the wheel of a car and the person riding the bicycle.

When a car approaches a cycle, the single line laser turns into a double line laser and spins faster.
Source: Michelin

The Daily Dot reports that a similar product hit the market last year: British technology firm Blaze’s Laserlight. This product projects a green bicycle symbol roughly 20 feet in front of a cycler to alert pedestrians and drivers. Though largely similar, Michelin's gadget is different from Blaze's Laserlight — which costs 125 pounds (about $159) — as the red light circumference does more than just alert a driver of a cyclist; it helps them know exactly how far to stay away when overtaking a person on a cycle.

The idea for Bikesphere came from Michelin’s “trendy drivers” crowdsourced campaign, which aims to make roads a safer place by awarding inventors 6,000 euros to make their ideas a reality. Bikesphere is the first project to be awarded by Michelin’s initiative.

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