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Pingbell: A smart bell that helps you find your bike

Dutch-based studio FROLIC designed Pingbell - a bike bell and app that helps you locate your bicycle.

In a bike-friendly city such as Amsterdam, where the density of bikes is both mesmerising and confusing, such a concept provides a helpful solution for those who can’t quite remember where they parked their bike.

The bell looks virtually identical to a conventional bike bell, but it connects to your phone via Bluetooth to let you know its location.

How it started

The studio uses a concept called 24h FROLIC to come up with solutions for problems they have encountered or seen in their daily happenings. The team submits papers with problems in a box and then they look at the solution to one for 24 hours. They brainstorm and build a working prototype to try and solve the problem.

It’s no surprise that "I can’t find my bike at the train station" was found in the box, leading to Pingbell.

A bell and app solution

FROLIC produced a Bluetooth bike bell and Pingbell app to track a bicycle’s location. They deconstructed a standard bike bell and packed it with electronics and Bluetooth technology to connect to a smartphone.

When you park your bike and walk away from it, the Bluetooth connection to your bicycle is broken, which prompts the app to automatically drop a pin on the map.

The technology used is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), also known as Bluetooth Smart, which provides considerably reduced power consumption and cost whilst maintaining a similar communication range.

The bell’s battery lasts up to one year, and can easily be charged via USB. Pingbell also comes with tamper-proof screws and a special screwdriver to give it extra security.

How it works

When you park and lock your bike, it automatically synchronises to your phone and notes your bike’s location by dropping a pin on a map on your smartphone.

pingbell

When you come back to try and locate your bike, perhaps in between hundreds of others, you can see where it is on the map, or trigger the bell to alert you to its exact spot (assuming no one has walked off with your bicycle or the bell!).

Kickstarter campaign

A Kickstarter campaign was launched at the beginning of September, offering the bike bell and app as part of the reward scheme. The team hope to finalise the design by the end of 2015. Production is said to begin in June, and in July the product will be shipped to supporters.

The app should be available for both iOS and Android smartphones when officially launched.

About FROLIC

FROLIC is an interaction and product design studio based in Amsterdam. The studio aims to find and invent everyday solutions for people, whether this is a product, service or brand. They like to consider both the physical and digital realm in their work, and see the relationship between the two as a playground of opportunities.

As well as Pingbell, the studio has produced a number of other innovative solutions, including BlindMaps. BlindMaps allows the visually impaired to navigate and explore new routes with ease. The user searches for a route using voice-input. Using tactile-sensitive haptic technology, the interface has a perforated braille-like screen with pins that move and adapt to show how to navigate the route in real-time.

 

Parvinder

Author

Parvinder Marwaha

British-born editor Parvinder studied architecture in the UK. Amsterdam’s architecture and design scene led her to the city, as well the obvious perks of canal-side living. She writes for various...

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