Smart Bikes are coming soon. Technology Update! Patent listings reveal pipeline innovations from Apple, Shimano and Praxis.
The bicycle industry is constantly changing and making improvements. I often say to my friends I am waiting for Google to develop a smart bike. This "app bike" or "Smart Bike" will analyze and report updates for the rider and bike shop. The reports will range from fitness updates and improvements for the rider an by sending data to the bike shop on maintenance schedules for the customer's bike. Or even record and submit road rage occurrances to the police. I see it coming and it will probably happen very soon.
For example here is an interesting report from Mark Sutton from Cycling Industry News (March 17, 2017).
A number of interesting patent applications have this week caused a stir in the cycling world, with Apple, Shimano and Praxis all seemingly in the process of driving forward new innovations.
Apple’s power grab
First of all it appears that Apple has an interest in a cyclist’s power data. An application for a patent filed last week indicates that data giants in cycling might soon have some very well-funded competition.
Titled “Calculating an Estimate of Wind Resistance Experienced by a Cyclist”, the patent in question is for a device that would calculate acceleration, heart rate, wind resistance and even the road surface and rider stance as a factor, ultimately delivering a reading of rider power minus the expensive powermeter.
The patent reads: When riding a bicycle, three main factors contribute to total energy expenditure: rolling resistance, contributed by friction of the bicycle tires against the ground; grade, contributed by the force of gravity pulling against the mass of the cyclist and bicycle; and wind resistance or drag, contributed by the force of air drag against the cyclist and bicycle moving through the atmosphere. When riding a bicycle at a constant speed, the total of these three main factors represents the major power output of the cyclist.
All of this considered, it is safe to say that Apple isn’t going for a traditional take on power readings.
In some embodiments, the motion sensors may include, for example, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a barometer or altimeter, a magnetometer or compass, etc. The wearable device may also include a motion coprocessor, which may be optimized for low-power, continuous motion sensing and processing, adds the patent.
All of this data could of course be easily fed into Apple’s wearable tech, most notably the Apple Watch and the patent application certainly places emphasis on wearable devices.
Here’s the application itself for those interested in the micro detail.
Shimano Narrow/Wide shiftable chains and chainrings
The eagle-eyed on Vital’s forum have been busy turning up patent applications again and appear to have stumbled on some interesting files this week.
Suggesting that 2X isn’t quite on the way out yet, Shimano appears to be working on shiftable narrow/wide chainrings and corresponding chains. USPTO Application # 20170066500 by Shimano Inc goes into great detail on the sprockets, much of which is available here.
The abstract to the design reads: A bicycle sprocket has a sprocket main body, a plurality of teeth disposed on the sprocket main body, and at least one shifting area. The teeth include at least one first tooth having a first maximum axial width and at least one second tooth having a second maximum axial width. The first maximum axial width is larger than the second maximum axial width. The first tooth is configured to engage with an outer link plate of a chain. The second tooth is configured to engage with an inner link plate of the chain. At least one shifting area includes an area where a chain engages with one of the teeth during shifting and an area where the chain separates from one of the teeth during a shifting action from the bicycle sprocket to the small sprocket.
Praxis entering derailleur market?
Another extremely interesting find to surface this week stems from Praxis which has a depth of experience in optimising the drivetrain.
Adding a modern and electronic twist, the USPTO Application # 20170066501 opts to use a belt system to manage shifts.
The patent’s abstract offers: A derailleur may include an electric motor configured to drive a gear assembly to pivot a rigid case around the B knuckle of the derailleur. A chain tensioner-supporting P knuckle of the derailleur may be pivotably connected to the rigid case. The P knuckle may be held substantially parallel to an associated bicycle frame by a belt that is fixed to the B knuckle shaft and passes around the P knuckle shaft. A belt tensioner may be provided between the B knuckle and P knuckle shafts.
Yours in Cycling and Fitness,
President of Fun
May Street Bicycles is not your typical bike shop. Sure we sell awesome bicycles, provide bicycle repairs, and rental bikes all at great prices. But we do a great deal more such as dynamic bike fitting, metabolic testing, altitude training, and personal training.