Conventional bicycles are undergoing a radical technological makeover that could change the way people ride and protect their bikes.
LeEco isn’t reinventing the wheel with its new Smart Road and Smart Mountain bikes, but infusing them with dazzling technology derived from smartphones and self-driving cars. The bicycles have navigation, fitness and communication features, and even technology to track a stolen bike.
These new features are more than just bells and whistles — they could be a blueprint of how future bikes could look. Transportation is the next big technology frontier, and LeEco’s bikes are cool and smart.
The LeEco smart bikes will be available in the U.S. in the second quarter. A company spokeswoman said prices will be announced at a later date.
The bikes are made of a carbon-fiber frame and have high-end components to pedal and brake a bike. As the names indicate, the bikes are built for different terrain.
But technology is what separates these smart bikes from others. The bikes have 4-inch touchscreens, which are more like dashboards that provide navigation and the ability to play music. They allow walkie talkie-style communication with other LeEco bikes within range and have a 6,000 milliamp hour batteries.
You don’t want such a fancy bike stolen, so there’s a security system built in to prevent theft. The bike has an alarm that is activated in a theft, and owners can track the cycle via a mobile app.
The bike also works with fitness devices, and data collected from heart monitors and fitness bands can be fed into LeEco’s smart bike systems.
The smart bikes run on BikeOS, which is based on Android 6.0. The dashboard is powered by a 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor, which is used in some new smartphones. In a way, tasks like navigation and fitness can be achieved by placing a smartphone on a bike, but LeEco put in some unique sensors in its smart bikes.
The bike has GPS and GLONASS sensors for navigation, an accelerometer, a barometer, and sensors to check the light level. Like with stationary bikes, the LeEco smart bikes can monitor wheel speed and distance traveled.
But there are dangers. The dashboard could take user concentration off the streets, which can be dangerous when riding in heavy traffic. Also, charging a dashboard beats the purpose of having a human-powered bike. In the future, energy harvested from natural sources like pedaling could be used to charge the dashboard, but that’s still many years out.
LeEco is mainly a TV and smartphone maker, and has also designed a self-driving car. Top technology companies including Apple, Google, Nvidia, Intel and Qualcomm are looking at self-driving cars, but LeEco is targeting technology on bikes.
The smart bikes will be shown at CES trade show this week in Las Vegas. There’s a big focus on technology in transportation at the show.