Innovation is a wonderful thing, and the cycling industry seems to have its fair share of companies and startups keen to exploit a lucrative market bring new benefits to users. Fortunately, evolution is also a wonderful thing. Crap stuff dies out.
Somewhere in between genuine innovation and hype filled profiteering lies the murky world of marketing, which can help to make or break a new product.
To what extent is innovation replacing common sense?
A few months ago in early 2015 I recall seeing hundreds of posts on social media about a new technology being introduced into Volvo cars. The basic idea was that cyclists with certain helmets (made by POC) would transmit their live position to some central cloud based server. You know, magic sky stuff.
Clever software on board the Volvo dashboard would then warn drivers when they were likely to get too close to a cyclist. Likewise the cyclist would get some sort of alert.
Here’s the promo video.
Everyone lapped it up, and for a week or two, it was everywhere. Now, this either means that most publishers genuinely thought this was newsworthy, or they were just having a quiet week and this helped them hit their blog post quota for the week.
I refrained from posting about it, probably because everyone else had already jumped on the bandwagon, but also because of this:
Was I the only one who thought this was kind of absurd? An over-engineered “solution” to a simple issue. People just need to look where they’re going!
Here’s an alternative view, and equally high tech.
Imagine a world surrounded by an electromagnetic spectrum of frequencies. Species might evolve with complex hardware built in to their very own nervous systems, attuned to specific portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, and to other environmental factors such as variation in the frequency of air pressure. It might be hard to comprehend, but stick with me.
Here’s the clever bit – a continuous stream of photons from the nearest star would be reflected off of all objects, stationary and moving. We could call this LIGHT. The incredible “feature” is that this transmission of light data into the virtual cloud is entirely passive and continuous, though admittedly, dropouts in performance would occur in the absence of photons.
Additionally, the atmospheric medium can carry information encoded in the form of waves of air pressure. Let’s call that SOUND.
Through simultaneous high frequency sampling of the input stimulus through highly evolved complex optical organics (let’s call them EYES), coupled with advanced spatial processing of the data, the host organism is able to perceive their immediate environment in real time.
This is further enhanced by additional hardware devices to detect sound waves in stereo, kind of like echolocation in dolphins. Let’s call them EARS.
No data servers, no batteries, no plastic. No annual subscription.
No surrendering personal responsibility and accountability.
Honestly. Common sense?
Just look where you’re going!
Caveat emptor: This article is only slightly tongue in cheek. If technology like this were to genuinely lead to increased safety for road users, then clearly it’s a forward move. My cynicism is based on a suspicion that it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference in the real world and is therefore just trying to capitalise on people’s fears.