A three-man team has started a Kickstarter campaign for a customizable bicycle “bell” that has already won several awards, including New York City’s 2014 Design Competition for Personal Product Design for Active Life. The gadget, called MyBell, lets cyclists project custom sounds to let pedestrians and drivers know they’re on the road. MyBell also lets bicyclists select high-intensity LED light pulse patterns at night.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010, 618 “pedalcyclists” were killed and another 52,000 were injured in crashes with motor vehicles, comprising 2% of all traffic fatalities during that year. In Colorado, there were eight fatal bicycle accidents in 2010, NHTSA reports.
Liberty Mutual’s website advises cyclists to communicate with drivers and pedestrians by using a bell or horn to let them know when they are approaching. It is also important to add white lights in the front of the bike and red lights behind to alert motorists of your presence at night, in the early morning and on cloudy days, the site notes.
As MyBell writes:
Why should we be limited in our options? MYBELL empowers users to decide what sound and light combination works best for them. We don’t live in a one-sound-fits-all world. Different sounds elicit different responses depending on geography and culture. People know their local streets, paths, and roads better than anyone else, which is why a product should exist that can be customized and programmed for their environment.
A traditional bike bell might work in some areas if it can be heard but sometimes your surroundings necessitate a different audible or visual signal. What works in Brooklyn might not work in Shanghai or London.
MyBell attaches to a bike’s handlebars with an adjustable strap, writes Nick Lavars for Gizmag. It has a built-in computer that can store two user-selected sound files and several lighting patterns. By connecting MyBell to a computer, via a USB cable, you can upload audio files in such formats as MP3, WAV, and Ogg, he writes. The sounds are played through a 96-decibel speaker. The developers designed MyBell so that one tap of the horn’s button plays the first digital file, and two taps plays the second. This gives the rider the flexibility to choose which sound file is best for the situation, Lavars reports.
The gadget was dreamed up by Peter Pottier, who brought his friend Valentin Siderskiy, an electrical engineer, on board “to make it happen.” The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based team also includes Steve Remy, a mechanical engineer who specializes in manufacturing design. All three team members are bicycling enthusiasts.
The Kickstarter campaign will provide a MyBell to anyone who contributes $99, which is less than the projected retail price, and there are options that provide more than one MyBell for various donation levels. “If all goes according to plan,” Lavars writes, “shipping is slated for February 2015.”
In addition to the above-mentioned award, MyBell has won funding from New York’s Next Top Makers, Engadget’s Insert Coin inventor’s competition, and Miller Lite’s Tap the Future, the company’s press release reports. The team also won Editor’s Choice at the World Maker Faire, and a booth at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show.