Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Samsung Smart Bike: MCUs For Your Bike

Bikes present a wide range of opportunities to use microcontrollers to improve your riding or at least give you a new experience. This posts briefly looks at a few of those opportunities.
Samsung Smart Bike

Tonight's collection of bike related MCU projects and ideas was prompted by reading "Samsung Smart Bike packs an Arduino and frickin’ laser beams," a June 12 post in Geek's post said:
"Samsung’s been working on a concept bike in conjunction with Maestros Academy...For the smart bike in particular, the design team wanted to help reduce the number of cyclists involved in accidents each year...Front and center (literally) on the bike is a magnetic smartphone mount. Slap on your Galaxy phone and fire up the app to control the bike’s systems. There’s onboard LED lighting for nighttime riding and a rearview camera so you can safely keep tabs on traffic as it approaches from behind — video is streamed to your bike-mounted phone. And then there’s the four bike-mounted lasers. The lasers on Samsung’s bike aren’t designed to take out incoming foes...They’re part of the bike’s safety system. Fire them up, and a virtual bike lane gets projected onto the roadway to make sure motorists give you enough room to
ride...How does the bike communicate with your phone? It’s hiding the maker’s secret weapon, an Arduino, which gets paired via Bluetooth. The Samsung app also
Laser bike lane concept
does the typical social fitness stuff. You can track your rides and share them with other smart bike users, see where other people are riding, and even keep tabs on how many people are riding the same path as you in real time
The Samsung Smart Bike is just one type of MCU-bike project. Using MCUs on bikes can be divided into five categories:
  1. MCUs improving biking experience but not connected to the bike
  2. Bike-connected MCUs for independent projects
  3. MCUs integrating multiple biking features
  4. MCUs connected to bike and to smartphone
  5. MCU-controlled e-bikes
Numerous MCU posts could be written about each of the above categories of bike-mcu combos. For tonight's post we'll just briefly descibe each category and mention related projects or webpage links.
Flora brake light backpack

The first category, bike-related MCUs which aren't bike-connected, covers items like this Arduino blinking bike patch backpack, this Flora brake light backpack or this jacket which uses an Arduino to light up an arrow or other rider-visibility features. The MCU in these projects aren't actually connected to the bike or integrated into its functioning, but they do create a better riding experience.

The second category, bike-connected MCUs for independent projects covers items like the bike speedometer from Instructables or some of the Arduino-bike projects from the Intro to
Bike speedometer
Arduino Pimp My Bike series
. To find a specific bike-mcu project you're interested in, just Google for  bike Arduino [or microcontroller] xxxxx, where xxxxx is the topic or type of bike feature or function in which you are interested.

MCUs integrating multiple biking features includes projects like this bike dashboard Instructables which integrates a lighting system and a speedometer. An Arduino or other MCU system can control a wide variety of sensors and outputs, so you could include front and back-illuminating LEDs or lasers, blinking LEDs for turn indication, photosensors to automatically turn on your bike lights and lots of other physical computing features that are functional, cool or both.
Bike dashboard

The fourth category, MCUs connected to the bike and a smartphone have a huge upside for innovation and benefit in the next five to ten years as smartphones add sensors and computing power and as MCUs continue to become more powerful. This category includes projects like the Samsung Smart Bike. The MCU controls and communicates with a wide variety of devices and sensors, and the smartphone can easily connect your bike with the internet and with your friends or other bikers.

MCU-controlled e-bikes represents the largest financial impact of MCUs on biking to-date. China has been a huge market for e-bikes because of the size of the population, the low cost transportation provided by e-bikes and the effort to reduce or minimize pollution caused by gas or diesel vehicle engines. Here are two e-bike overview PDFs; a Samsung application note "Electric Bike Controller System" and a Texas Instruments application report "Hardware Design Considerations for an Electric Bicycle Using a BLDC Motor."

What type of MCU-bike project would you like to work on with the Humboldt Microcontrollers Group? Come to the next meeting, tomorrow night, Thursday, August 21, at 1385 8th Street, Arcata, California, and discuss that project with the MCU group.


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