Bluetooth Technology Gives Cyclists Eyes In The Back Of Their Head

Posted on January 29, 2014 by Nanci Taplett

Inspiration comes from many places, and in Bluetooth Breakthrough Award student-finalist Savannah Cofer’s instance, it came from her little brother. When most teenagers are bothered by their younger siblings, Savannah loved spending time with hers, especially riding their bicycles to school every morning. But a traumatic eye injury left the 6 year old with double and rotated vision, a bruised retina and the loss of his peripheral vision. Bicycling was now out of the question.

As Savannah investigated ways to try to help her brother, she came across some interesting statistics in her research. One that stood out was more than fifty thousand bicyclists were injured in the United States last year with 630 bicyclists passing away as a result. That really struck her. Savannah started interviewing avid bikers and found that with wind and road noise, it made it impossible to hear cars and trucks coming from behind. In Savannah’s community of Columbus, Ohio, there is an average of 286 car/bicycle accidents each year, mostly resulting when cars or trucks attempt to pass a bicycle. She researched the current solutions for bicyclists including the small, rear-view mirrors and looking over the shoulder both of which are insufficient to spot fast-moving vehicles. She found one potential design concept using Fresnel lenses on a pair of sports glasses actually extended cyclists peripheral vision but the result was a distorted visual image with a limited field of view. She decided to put her love for robots, science and all things techy into play and Bicycle SuperVision was born.

Bicycle SuperVision uses a combination of radar and a smartphone connected with Bluetooth® technology to give cyclists 360-degree awareness of his or her surroundings. “I am very interested and involved in the use of technology to solve problems, especially technologies like Bluetooth that are so simple and affordable,” said Coffer. In addition to providing information on actual vehicle location and speed, Savannah has thoughts of extending the Bluetooth capability to support multiple device connections and provide extra features such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature to detect overexertion or heat exhaustion. Bicycle SuperVision could also monitor the outside environment for temperature and head wind speed. Applications in law enforcement and the military may be in the future for Bicycle SuperVision. A device mounted to military gear and backpacks would enable soldiers and officers to have “eyes in the back of their head.”

Susannah is currently developing a business plan for her Bluetooth Breakthrough Award project. She’s identified potential manufacturer and distribution partners. If she wins the $5,000 student category prize, she hopes to use the money to build a series of beta prototypes for evaluation by cyclists. “I’m anxious to receive feedback that will enable me to continue improving this invention. Winning this award would definitely be the jumpstart I need to make Bicycle SuperVision a reality.”

Other things to know about Savannah Cofer:

  • She loves Science — “I love learning the underlying scientific reasons behind every day phenomena. I want to know how the world works, from the tiniest arrangement of atoms to the huge galaxy in space.”
  • She is involved in several robotics teams and STEM competitions — “I learned about programming, architectural design, sensor technology and project management. Through STEM competition, I learned about research, intellectual property and business plans.”
  • She is not a serious cyclist — “I just enjoy riding my bike to school, soccer practice or to get ice cream.”
  • She is passionate about martial arts and self-defense
  • In the next 10-15 years, she wants to be an engineer creating solutions improving people’s quality of life — “The Bluetooth award has inspired and motivated me to continue dreaming up new ideas.”

Read the BBA finalist announcement

nanci taplett

Nanci Taplett

Nanci loves watching the world embrace innovation and changing technology.

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