The forthcoming Blinkers bike lights aim to make cycling after dark safer by increasing visibility and offering visual cues for drivers and other cyclists.
A team of students from Zurich, Switzerland, have developed what they're calling "the next generation of bike lights," which include not just a powerful headlight and taillight, but also turn signals and a brake light function, plus the projection of a laser-delineated 'safe zone' on both sides of the rider.
A bike headlight can make cycling more convenient and safer for the rider, by lighting up the path in front of them and helping to make the bike more visible to drivers and other cyclists, and a taillight can offer increased visibility from behind, but the Blinkers lights adds a number of other safety features to the mix. The Blinkers lights are designed to work together as a set of front and rear devices, controlled both automatically and via a wireless remote on the handlebars, which allow the rider to signal their intentions when turning and to notify those behind the bike when the rider is applying the brakes and slowing down.
The front headlight illuminates with 200 lumens of bright LED light, which can be controlled either manually or operated as 'smart light' that automatically varies the brightness based on the level of ambient light, which can help get the most use out of the rechargeable 1600mAh Li-ion batteries. It also includes an flashing turn signal element, which notifies oncoming traffic of which direction the rider is turning, and which is synchronized with the rear unit for maximum visibility of the rider's intentions.
The rear unit is a 100 lumen combination taillight, turn signal, and brake light, and also includes two ground-projected laser lights (FRICKIN' LASERS!) that display a virtual lane around the rider, which can offer a visual cue of the appropriate safe zone for others to keep around the bike. The brake light feature uses an accelerometer and gyroscope to measure the movement of the cyclist, which automatically triggers the brake light when the rider is applying the brakes, and then 'releases' the brake light when the bike speeds up again, which is a key missing element of the current bike light options on the market.
Blinkers lights are powered by rechargeable internal batteries which are charged via a USB connection, and are said to last up to a week on a single charge, based on an average use of one hour per day. The wireless remote unit, which mounts on the handlebar, runs off of a 'coin' battery, which is estimated to last about 6 months with average use.
In addition to the useful safety and convenience features of the Blinkers operation, the team has also put a lot of thought into the mounting system for these lights, which allow the rider to quickly and easily remove the lights for security and charging. 'Permanent' mounting brackets are installed on both the handlebars and the seat post (or a rear cargo rack or basket), which then uses magnetic connections to hold the lights in place while in use, yet still making them a snap to remove.
The Blinkers units are completely water resistant, and are said to be rugged enough to survive drops from "a typical bicycle height" and to stand up to the everyday bumps, scratches, and drops that biking accessories tend to experience during use.
The team behind Blinkers, Velohub, is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, which aims to raise at least $56,112 toward production costs, and is currently this close to reaching its goal. Backers of the campaign at the $77 level can reserve a rear unit (said to be 30% off the future retail price), and a pledge of at least $111 will garner a reward of both front and rear units (again, at about 30% off), which are expected to be delivered in February of 2017. For additional information, see Velohub's landing page for Blinkers.