Apple looks to make bikes ‘Smart’

“The patent also states that an iPhone or iPod could be used to automatically or in response to a user instruction, record video, audio, or take photographs reflecting the course…”

[H/T to @dontbecreepy on Twitter via 9 to 5 Mac]

The Patently Apple blog shared information today about a patent application from Apple that details development of a “Smart Bicycle System.” Here at BikePortland headquarters we recently received a GPS unit to try out from the folks at Strava, developers of an online tool that lets people share and compare their routes and times.

Graphic of Apple’s “Smart Bike System” from

With the ever-encroaching assault of mobile devices into our lives, I wonder just how smart our bikes will become. Automakers like Ford have responded to the popularity of smartphones and other devices by turning their cars into entertainment and information centers with enough high-tech gadgetry to rival a James Bond flick. Their heavily touted “Sync” technology is likely seen by Ford as not just another product attribute, but as a way to compete for the younger generation’s love affair with gadgets.

Are bikes far behind? Not if Apple has anything to say about it. Here’s more about their “Smart Bicycle System” as reported by Patently Apple.

“While the system is for individuals, it’s also designed to work with teams of cyclists so that they could communicate with each other on-the-fly about course difficulty or perceived problems. The Bicycle system monitors speed, distance, time, altitude, elevation, incline, decline, heart rate, power, derailleur setting, cadence, wind speed, path completed, expected future path, heart rate, power, and pace. The system could utilize various sensors built-into the iPhone in addition to working with sensors already built-into the bike itself.

… Apple’s patent is about using a new iPod or iPhone system primarily on a bike so that they could share information with other cyclists riding in a group. It could also provide feedback to cyclists regarding their performance or the performance of other cyclists with whom they are riding.”

The patent application is amazingly detailed. There’s even a mention of “a movable display or a projecting system for providing a display of content on a surface remote from the bike, such as a video projector, head-up display, or three-dimensional (e.g., holographic) display.” Holograms! Crazy. Read the whole thing over at Patently Apple.

All this sounds interesting, but I wonder if too much tech will diminish the simplicity and respite from technology that pedaling a bicycle provides. On the other hand, cool technology might make bikes seem more appealing to a certain demographic and if bicycling wants to compete with driving and other modes, that might be a good thing.

What do you think?

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