The behavior of drivers at junctions monitored by cameras or on stretches of road under the ever watchful gaze of a radar can be very different to those without. Keen cyclists Andrew Hagen and Kingsley Fiegert from Perth in western Australia are on a mission to give fellow riders the same kind of power. They've designed a rear cycle light named the Fly6 that's capable of recording everything that goes on behind, the theory being that if drivers think there's a camera pointed at them, they'll give cyclists more space and show more courtesy.
The developers say that accidents to the rear are four times more deadly than those cyclists can see coming, and perhaps respond appropriately. Fiegert certainly didn't see the high speed projectile heading his way from a passing car while he was out riding. Had the occupants of the vehicle believed that their actions might be recorded, they may have behaved differently. At least that's the theory. Hagen and Fiegert have been working on the proof of concept Fly6 HD-capable camera and bicycle tail light ever since.
The device attaches to the seat post of the host bike and records whatever is behind the cyclist in real-time, time-stamped 720p high definition video at 30 frames per second through a 130 degree wide-angle lens and 16-bit/32 kHz resolution mono audio via the built-in microphone. Video recording continually loops, over-writing earlier recordings for set and forget usage. The Fly6 will ship with an 8 GB microSD media card, but can take up to 32 GB. With the supplied card, this effectively means that users will always have the last two hours of footage before earlier AVI video files are sacrificed.
The 105 g (3.7 oz) device is nano-coated to help it laugh in the face of water splashes, has a 1500 mAh Li-ion battery that's claimed good for over five hours of continuous video and audio recording and is topped up via a USB port to the bottom, with a cover over the top to help keep the wet stuff out, and includes incident capture protection technology.
"In the event of an accident, providing the bike is tipped past 45 degrees for longer than 3 seconds, the software kicks in and shuts the camera down in 1 hour," says the team. "This means in the case of the 8 GB card provided, you'll have 1 hour pre incident and 1 hour post incident. In addition to this, if the device is damaged to the point of power being lost, because the data is written live to the card, footage is retained up until this point."
The camera has been primarily designed for daylight use, and will reportedly perform pretty well in low light situations, but not in complete darkness.
Of course, as well as a black box recorder for your bike, the device could also be used to supplement any footage you capture on your head-mounted actioncam, which can then be spliced in during the edit for a complete all-round video documentary of your action-packed ride.
The Fly6 is also a tail light, with four dimming and two flashing options. The current prototype puts out 10 lumens, but the designers are looking to increase this to 15.
Hagen and Fiegert have already sent out 150 pre-production prototypes to cyclists all over Australia in a national trial. In addition to catering for real world testing and providing a good test run for production proper, participants also got the opportunity to upload video footage to the company's website, including the unwelcome high-five from a passing motorcyclist shown below. The trials have revealed that cyclists feel safer in the knowledge that the Fly6 is watching their backs.
Though the Fly6 team has a smart-looking fifth prototype in the bag, further refinements to the design are necessary before heading to the marketplace. To this end, the project has launched on Kickstarter for the final push towards the first full production run.
The first 100 units have already been snapped up, so early bird backers will now need to stump up at least AUD 119 (US$107) for a package that includes seat post mounts, straps, spacers, a USB cable and a microSD card. If all goes according to plan, delivery to backers is estimated to start in April, with a retail roll-out to Australian consumers penciled in for July. The US and Europe will follow in October or November.
Even if the campaign encounters an unexpected glitch, Hagen told us that "we have come this far and won’t stop if we don’t get the funding on Kickstarter."
The campaign pitch video is below.