As much as riding a bicycle is an environmentally beneficial experience, it is often not hassle-free one. While the probability of going unnoticed and being involved in a car accident outweighs the gains for some, the ease of your means of transportation being stolen poses yet another risk. Enter Shoka Bell: a new gadget seeking to solve these issues, promoting an easier and safer environment to ride your bike, as cycling experiences a ‘renaissance’ across the world’s big cities.
Urban cycling accessories are experiencing a wave of innovation as of late, as more and more health conscious and environmentally-aware young professionals prefer to get around on two wheels. Earlier this year, the Classon smart-helmet made waves among cyclists, smashing its crowdfunding goal and dominating headlines. However, previous research has shown that laws mandating bicycle helmets can reduce the uptake of cycling among youth. This can be attributed to an added cost barrier as well as the perceived ‘uncoolness’ of wearing a helmet, especially among the young.
The colorful, weather-proof Shoka Bell, which is magnetically attached to any bike through a clamp, has different alert options to choose from. The uniqueness, however, is in the fact that the volume of the bell automatically adjusts to the biker’s surrounding environment. This means that if you are cycling in a loud neighborhood, the volume of the bell will automatically become louder. The device also acts as an automatically adjustable front light, getting brighter or dimmer depending on the surrounding street light.
While many cities mandate bicycle lights for riding after dark, and a handful more also require bikes to be fitted with bells, whether or not these stipulations discourage cycling, like helmets, is an unresearched area. However, one can assume that smart accessories, like Shoka Bell, while undoubtedly more expensive than a standard bell, could in fact encourage cycling because of its cool factor.
Through an application, Shoka Bell can also help navigate your city’s streets. “Simply connect Shoka Bell to your smartphone and choose a destination. Then navigate through a city by glancing at your Shoka Bell’s indicator arrows. You’ll also be warned of busy intersections you’ll face ahead,” the California-based company says.
The clamp attached to the bike also acts as a theft detector. The biker can keep the bell on him and if the bike is moved it will start ringing, notifying the biker that someone might be trying to steal the bike. The device only needs to be charged once every 200 hours.
The company launched a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter, seeking US $75,000 and has surpassed their goal by US $52,000 at the time of writing. The device costs Kickstarter backers US $79, around 50% less than the expected US $159 retail price. Mass production of Shoka Bell will start in February and will be delivered to early backers by March.
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