Smart bike handlebars have turn signals, GPS, speedometer

Helios Bars are sleek handlebar replacements that come with built-in LED lights and smartphone connectivity.

Helios Bars
Helios handlebars light up your cycling nightlife. Kenny Gibbs

In general, bicycles haven't adopted the same high-tech features as many cars. Turn signals are done by hand, and GPS equates to using good old-fashioned brain power or the information you have on your phone. Helios Bars, a Kickstarter project, can turn a regular bike into a smart bike.

The feature list is a fun read. There are left- and right-turn signals, a headlight, GPS tracking in case someone nabs your ride, proximity lighting that senses your presence, and a visual speedometer with color-changing lights. There is also a turn-by-turn navigation feature. Rear-facing LEDS on the handlebars indicate when a turn is coming up.

The first goal of Helios is visibility. The 500-lumen headlight is the centerpiece, but lights mounted to the ends of the bars, pointing backward, also increase visibility and act as turn signals. The visual speedometer, when turned on, communicates the bike's speed based on changing colors.

The built-in GPS feature can track the bike's location if someone steals it. Text the system and it sends back a Google Maps link to the bike's location. This feature is enabled with a pay-as-you-go SIM card. Even better, Helios is built with a reserve battery that lasts up to 15 days. Even if the villain removes the main batteries, you'll still be able to track it.

A Bluetooth smartphone connection lets the bike know when you're near, thanks to an iOS app. It will turn on its lights to greet you. The handlebars are made from aluminum and come in either a drop-bar or bullhorn style. The device is rechargeable, with a battery life of about seven hours.

The Helios Bars are going for a $199 pledge on Kickstarter. With almost a month left, the project is nearly halfway to its $70,000 goal. Prototypes have gone through testing and the company will move into production if the fundraising is successful.

 

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