This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the All LED Lighting site may go dark at any time. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.


Movies for Bicycle Wheels

Make a playlist of 90-second movie clips to play in your bicycle wheels as you tour the city. This LED-fueled Kickstarter project kicks up the creativity to 11.

This project doesn't exactly qualify as LED lighting -- more as display, media, and visibility enhancement. But it is just so sweet and spirited that I could not resist celebrating it in this community.

When blogger Ron Amok reported from Maker Faire Bay Area, he noted the presence of MonkeyLectric, a frequent exhibitor at such venues. The company's Monkey Lights animate the wheels of bicycles in motion. As our blogger noted, MonkeyLectric mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2011 to productize the entry-level Mini Monkey Lights -- the campaign attracted over twice the requested funding from 649 backers.

Going Pro
MonkeyLectric is going back to the Kickstarter well again in a campaign that began last week, and from all indications this one will meet its funding goal too. At this writing, $108,000 of the requested $180,000 has been pledged, with 53 days to go, for early access to Monkey Lights Pro.

This graphic summarizes some of the imaginative features and specs of the Pro model. The price is impressive too: if you want to pledge on Kickstarter to pay for a pair of LED displays, one per wheel, it will cost you $1,390 at this writing. A dozen early birds got in at a price point of $995.

The really clever feature of all the Monkey Lights versions is the complex of sensors -- a two-axis accelerometer and four magnetic detectors -- and the software that integrates their inputs and keeps an ongoing video steady, in the face of acceleration and braking, at speeds from 10 miles to 40 miles per hour (15 km to 65 km per hour), forward or backwards.

MonkeyLectric says they have made over 100 prototypes of Monkey Lights Pro and incorporated feedback from those who have field-tested and developed software and video for them. Some of the early testers sound like they are as creative as the MonkeyLectric folks obviously are. An example:

The Fukushima Wheel project outfitted a bike with pollution sensors. As you ride around, it collects data from the environment and displays it on the wheels.

I wonder how long it will be before others -- in Asia perhaps? -- produce copies of this idea and force down prices. If I had a $3,000 bicycle though, I would buy Monkey Lights from the inventors. How about you?

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— Keith Dawson Circle me on Google+ Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn page, Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting