When we first came across Emily Brooke's BLAZE, a bicycle attachment that projects a cycle lane symbol on the road ahead of the cyclist, it was little more than a concept. That was in June of last year. Since then, Brooke's launched her own company, developed working prototypes, and taken to Kickstarter to fund fabrication of the first batch.
The crux of the concept remains intact: BLAZE remains a light which is attached to the handlebars of the bike which projects a cycle lane symbol onto the ground, 4 to 6 meters (13 to 20 ft) ahead of the bike. The idea is that this will help to prevent accidents where drivers turn in on cyclists traveling straight ahead – the sorts of accidents which account for 79 percent of cycling casualties in the UK, according to 2011 figures from the Department for Transport.
But much clearer now is the technology that will bring this to bear. The prototype BLAZE is a 110-mm (4.3-in) machined aluminum tube that houses both an LED light and a laser module in order to operate both as a useful headlight and to project the cycle lane symbol onto the road.
It appears that final specification could change, but the current version houses a 1500-mAh rechargeable lithium battery that lasts for 6 hours of continuous illumination, or 12 hours if set to flash mode.
The LEDs in use in the prototype emit more than 80 lumens at an efficacy better than 90 lumens/watt. The BLAZE uses a Class II laser, classified as a safe for public sale in the UK market. The potential for misuse is reduced thanks to the way the lens scatters the laser beam, and the fact that a magnetic sensor prevents the laser from being switched on when the BLAZE is detached from the bike. The LED does work when detached, albeit in a lower power setting, meaning BLAZE doubles up as a makeshift flashlight.
What will certainly change is the project image of the bicycle which will become clearer, compensating for the angle of projection.
Here's the obligatory Kickstarter promo video. Clearly anything that improves cyclist visibility is a plus, though by how much safety is improved is open to speculation. Assuming a driver does see the projected image, the reaction time to avoid hitting a cyclist traveling at full tilt will be well under a second.
At the time of writing, of the available pledges, a BLAZE pre-order will set you back £60 (US$96). Delivery is, er, projected for April 2013. Source: Kickstarter
[UPDATE – Oct. 27/14: Brooke's team has informed us that the Kickstarter campaign was successful, and that the BLAZE can now be ordered from the company website.]