Programmable Mybell gives your bike a voice of its own
By Nick Lavars
June 27, 2014
A conventional bicycle bell might be a good way to alert pedestrians to your presence on a quiet suburban walkway, but when pedaling through bustling city streets there's a whole lot of other noise to contend with. Not satisfied with the one-size-fits-all approach to bicycle crash aversion, Brooklyn-based inventor Peter Pottier has developed Mybell, a programmable horn and light designed to give your bike its own unique warning system by loading it with just about any sound file you like.
Mybell is fixed to the handlebars with an adjustable strap. A built-in computer stores two user-selected sound files and a series of lighting patterns. Connecting Mybell to a computer via a USB cable enables the user to load the device with audio files in formats like MP3, WAV and Ogg. This could be a truck horn, a lion's roar or anything likely to make those nearby instantly aware of your presence.
The chosen sounds are emitted through a 96 decibel speaker and the pre-programmed lighting patterns through 110 lumen LED lights. Users operate the horn though a single button on top: a single tap plays the first digital file, a double tap plays the second. The developers designed Mybell this way to allow further flexibility. A car abruptly turning into your path, for example, may require a louder warning than an elderly lady crossing the street up ahead. Holding the button down switches to Night On mode, bringing the LED lights into the mix which then pulse in accordance with the preset lighting pattern chosen by the user.
Measuring 2.55 x 3.1 x 3.3 in (65 x 80 x 83 mm) and weighing 0.49 lb (227 g), Mybell is probably a little larger than the devices you'd usually strap to your handlebars, but the fact that it combines a horn and light might just end up saving some space. It runs on a 2,000 mAh battery, with each 4 hour charge providing around 2 days of use. Conveniently, it is charged via the same USB cable used to connect it to a computer.
We have seen some inventive approaches to improving the visibility of cyclists in recent times. The blinding Fenix lights up the road with 800 lumens, while the Hornster bicycle emits a deafening 178 decibels, letting everyone within several blocks know you're in the area. The dual-tone ORP Smart Horn allows cyclist two warning options, but the customizable Mybell does appear to offer a new level of flexibility.
Pottier and his team are currently raising funds on Kickstarter for Mybell, where a pledge of US$99 will put you in line for one of your own. If all goes to plan, shipping is slated for February 2015.
You can hear from Pottier in the pitch video below.