An Internet-enabled folding bike: cool, but do we really need it?

brompton folding bike photo
Video screen capture Brompton

There can be few topics that cause more internal conflict amont us TreeHugger types than the much-hyped "internet of things". On the one hand, adding internet connectivity to otherwise "dumb" objects presents many opportunities for increased efficiencies. On the other hand, dumb things have served us quite well for an awfully long time.

Now Inquisitr has an interesting piece about how the makers of the iconic Brompton folding bike are exploring all kinds of fancy Internet connectivity. Sadly, no amount of googling has yet turned up the original press release or corporate information about what this Brompton concept bike features, so I am relying on Inquisitr's own account. But here's just some of what this newfangled Brompton may have to offer:

- Traffic updates and route planning
- Pollution monitoring
- Warnings about vehicles getting too close
- Alerting emergency services if you get in an accident
- Sending a signal to "smart" street lamps to dial up the light when you are near

Now, I must admit, this list leaves me with decidedly mixed feelings. Traffic updates and route planning, for example, is something that most of us now have on our phones. And not sure about you, but when I ride a bike, I don't have much need for an electronic device to warn me about cars that get too close. My rising heart rate and welling anger have served me just fine so far...

That said, there is probably something to be said for a system that alerts the emergency services if you've been in a crash (we've seen "smart" bike locks that offer a similar feature). And, once we all live in fancy, fully connected cities I can see the appeal of bikes that communicate with street lights and traffic signals to smooth our passage through the city.

But as a former enthusiastic Brompton rider myself, I must say I always loved the old-school design smarts and engineering quality that went into that bike. And I can't help but feel that adding a bunch of space-age bells and whistles does little to make it cooler than it already was. I guess, as with most "smart" innovations, the question of how wise it is will depend on whether it significantly improves the experience of riding it. And that remains to be seen.

An Internet-enabled folding bike: cool, but do we really need it?
An old-school folding bike goes decidedly high tech.

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