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May 17th, 2010

Monday materials mind candy: Bicycle wheel LEDs add safety, art to night riding

Published on May 17th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

This is Bike-to-Work week and Bike Month in a lot of communities and cities across the U.S., and one of the accessories being increasing offered is a set of lightweight LEDs, added to a few of the spokes on your front or rear wheels, that are programmed to give the appearance of various designs and colors. Some of these LEDs can also be user programmed. All of them use “persistence of vision” to display a variety of patterns.

Keep in mind that these LEDs are no substitute for a good set of strong front and rear lights needed for bicycling beginning at dusk.

One the newest entries to this market is PIAA’s Ferris Wheel. According to Gizmag, the Ferris Wheel uses seven battery-powered LED lights to deliver 12 different pattern. They weigh 21 grams and sell for about $25, but currently are only sold in Japan. Here they are in action (note, in this and the other videos, the video frame speed makes the LEDs’ appearance look more choppy and varying than if seen live.)

The Taiwan-based Anvii markets Wireless Wheel Lights are a little pricier – about $100 – but they come with a wireless receiver for communications that can be used update lighting patterns and texts wirelessly via a USB connection to a computer.

Finally, I bring you MonkeyLectrics‘ Bike Wheel Light system the $65 unit (apparently a lot of riders use two per wheel, however) features 32 color LEDs available and cutting edge pre-programmed visual effects designed by our electronic artists. Powered by 3 AA batteries, the system can also be custom-programmed by the owner. Interestingly, MonkeyLectric also offers a Video Pro system for either bicyclists with a lot of money to show off their artisan skills, or  more likely – marketing companies who want to show videos on the wheels, stabile advertising messages and logos. The company says all common image and video formats can be transferred from a computer onto the Video Pro. Media, playlists and real time control can be customized to meet any application needs. The Video Pro costs $2,000.


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