Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Aussie researchers build a bike that can sense fear

Cycling may never be the same again, as Australian researchers come up with a way that could make bike riding safer than ever.

There’s always a risk of accidents when riding a bike, but a team of Australian researchers may have a solution, with a new type of bike that could improve safety by monitoring your brain patterns.

It’s an idea coming out of Monash University in Melbourne, with researchers working with IBM Research and the University of Southampton in the UK to create an electric bike connected to an EEG, also known as an electroencephalogram.

Called the Ena, it’s a prototype eBike that uses the technology to monitor a brain’s electrical activity, watching activity from its rider to understand and interpret what is going on, and responding to threats accordingly. When a threat is perceived by the system, the electric bike can suspend the engine and slow down the bike, effectively allowing the bike to understand that a threat is being felt, and to take action for the rider.

Alternatively when a rider’s point of view has little to distract, electrical activity can tell the Ena eBike that it’s okay to speed up, making the bike faster because the rider feels safer.

“Via Ena, we are able to explore technology that integrates with the human body to amplify the happiness that being physically active offers, while keeping you safer,” said Professor Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller, Director of the Exertion Games Lab at Monash University, and one of the co-creators of this technology.

It’s not the only aspect of the project that shows promise, either. The lead researcher of the project, IBM Researcher Josh Andres, has said it could be used in other areas, as well.

“The new research shows promising results on how humans can work together with intelligent systems in everyday life to extend their abilities,” he said.

“There are several scenarios where technology like this could be beneficial, from increasing safety and response time for emergency personnel to potentially monitoring a patient’s peripheral vision to learn about a condition, right through to being used in sports to help soccer players develop their peripheral vision.”

It means there’s a possibility later on that we could see other devices feature some form of human connection, though that might mean cycles first, with electric bikes able to sense how you’re feeling and help you control your bike accordingly, slowing it down when you see a car or speeding it up when the road is free.

Right now, however, the Ena brain-sensing eBike is just a concept, but depending on how things progress, we could see that change in the near future.

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