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Intelligent Blinker bracelet automatically gives cyclists flashing turn signals

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August 12, 2014

A mock-up of what the finished Intelligent Blinker may look like

A mock-up of what the finished Intelligent Blinker may look like

As any serious bicycle commuter will tell you, it's important to let drivers know what you're doing by signaling your intention to turn. Needless to say, the more visible your hand signals are, the safer you should be. That's why a group of doctoral students at Switzerland's EPFL research institute created the Intelligent Blinker. It's a wrist bracelet that automatically starts flashing when the wearer raises their arm to signal.

The device (which would presumably be worn as a set of two) contains an accelerometer and a magnetometer, to detect changes in the orientation of the bracelet. When the arm moves out laterally, those sensors trigger a set of integrated LEDs to begin blinking. Depending on how enthusiastic of a signaler they are, the user can adjust the Intelligent Blinker to kick in at more or less of an angle, as desired.

The bracelet can be charged by USB, although it also has a built-in photovoltaic panel. In its present prototype form, its circuit board is too large for practical use, although the students plan on reducing the size of the device to that of a wrist watch. They also hope to reduce its energy consumption, and add additional functions via more sensors.

Not surprisingly, other people have already taken their own shots at flashing hand signals for cyclists. The Safe Turn bracelet automatically lights up when signals are made, although it utilizes an internal tilt switch instead of an accelerometer or magnetometer. We also recently heard about the LED-arrow-equipped Zackees cycling gloves, which are manually activated (as are the Doppelganger gloves).

A device more technologically similar to the Intelligent Blinker, the Useeme Bicycle Turn Signals bracelet, recently failed to reach its funding goal on Indiegogo.

Source: EPFL via Damn Geeky

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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10 Comments

Anybody who rides a bicycle in rush hour traffic needs to be taken off the street. Helmet or no helmet.

Eddie
12th August, 2014 @ 04:02 pm PDT

OK Eddie Road rage. I pay my taxes and I drive a truck sometimes too, what ever the smarter move is. Rush hour is the best time to ride because cars are usually going 2 mph. No wonder your jealous. Just give bikes their own lanes and there will be less cars out there for you to sit behind. At least that's how it is in LA. Every city is different so it's foolish to generalize.

The Hoff
12th August, 2014 @ 10:01 pm PDT

@Eddie

It would be much more effect to move people during rush-hour if you took every car off the streets (and replaced 'em with bicycles). Please take your bike-hate somewhere else.

Milton
12th August, 2014 @ 11:19 pm PDT

This idea isn't so good. I would NOT want to take my hand off the handlebar in traffic, I'd prefer to have a flashing arrow on the bike helmet, I would have a small switch on the handlebar, forget accelerometers and magnetometers etc.

Or a light bar behind the seat. If it's too wide to leave deployed all the time, you fold it out of the way when you park it. Use regular batteries, forget USB rechargeable complexities.

Norm Frey
13th August, 2014 @ 01:54 am PDT

If you are going to use flashing lights why use a system that requires you to take your hands off the bars?

Slowburn
13th August, 2014 @ 04:17 am PDT

When was the last time you actually saw someone on a bike giving hand signals? (not including the middle finger).

Ditto not taking hands off the bars, tilt your head on helmet mounted flashers. Side to side and forward to stop.

Bob Flint
13th August, 2014 @ 10:01 am PDT

Turn signals are most effective when you can leverage them way the hell out in the direction you want to turn. (hence DMV rules about the space btween signals for motorcycles). Putting the turn signal on the helmet would make the turn signals about as effective as the ones that squeeze under motor-cycle seats (aka: totally useless).

That being said, I'd rather have to swing my arm out than carry around a 2-foot pole behind my bike.

My biggest concern would be the minimal surface-area that the light occupies. If I was looking to get turn-signals for a bike, I would want 'em to emit light all the way from my wrist to my elbow. And super-bright light at that. I find most bike-lighting pathetic. Amp it up BIG-TIME and require a charge every day... I'd be down for that.

Milton
13th August, 2014 @ 10:14 am PDT

@Eddie

What you should do is visit say Germany or Netherlands. In the former they have specially marked lanes right on the sidewalks for the cyclists. They have right of way even higher than the pedestrians. In the latter I have seen the roads full of cyclists during rush hours with quite a few of them sporting expensive 3 piece suits and very expensive brief cases. Very definitely a much better solution for health and fossil energy !

Anyhow what is wrong with the battery operated blinkers activated by a 2 way centre off momentary switch fixed to the handle bar right near one's preferred thumb? I had it on my Lambretta scooter some 50 years ago !

pmshah
13th August, 2014 @ 08:32 pm PDT

@ Milton

Mount the lights on your shoulders or hips or use chasing lights to indicate direction.

Slowburn
15th August, 2014 @ 08:33 am PDT

I see no need for the accelerometer and all that expensive technology. A constantly flashing light would work just fine. My headlight and tail light don't turn on automatically and I'm just fine with that. Put these bracelets on and turn them on high and flashing and you have "usable" turn signals and one extra safety light on you. Any one who actually commutes doesn't need to "look cool". You're concerned about getting hit.

Just the other night a car pulled up in the turning lane next to me and thanked me for having flashing lights. When someone sees flashing lights, they tend to focus on them until they can at least see what is causing them to flash. Then they know you're a bicycle and can be aware of you.

Make these constant flashing with high visibility and decent battery life and you have a customer.

canderso
16th September, 2014 @ 07:37 am PDT
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