Bright IDEAs: Halifax university students create new bike gadgets in design bootcamp
The students from NSCAD and Dalhousie have created various products that address a problem or gap currently in the market.
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A helmet that signals for you while riding a bike, along with a powerful horn that remains hidden from view, may not be pipe dreams for cyclists much longer.
As hundreds of Haligonians take to their pedals for Bike Week, and the warm weather brings out more cyclists, two groups of Halifax university students are unveiling their bike safety products in an open house Friday alongside other groups from the six-week IDEA bootcamp.
The IDEA program (now in its third year) is a collaboration between NSCAD Design and both Dalhousie's Faculty of Engineering and Rowe School of Management.
This year, 17 students broke into groups of three or four with faculty mentorship to imagine, create, and plan a business model around a unique product that solves a problem.
“We found ourselves looking at sources like ‘OK, well how does a French horn work? And how does a drum work … could we put a car horn on a bike?’” Lexie Hardacre, NSCAD design student, said Thursday from the sunny IDEA workroom at the NSCAD University Port Campus.
Hardacre, alongside Dalhousie engineering grad Andrew MacMaster, and master of business grad Shayla Fitzsimmons, created a horn where a “bladder” made of recycled tires hides inside the seatpost of a bike. The horn connects to a trigger button on the handlebars with thin wires, resulting in sound coming from the front.
Unlike the average bike horn or bell— which the group said rarely get the attention of drivers — their product registers 120 decibels, or roughly that of an air horn.
“It lets the cyclist have some power in alerting the driver that ‘Hey, I’m still here,’” Fitzsimmons said.
A big part of the design project is consults with real people who might use the product, so the team heard from cyclists that they’d prefer a more visually-discrete horn. The current horns on the market attach like a water bottle to the bike's frame, and are often stolen because they’re so noticeable.
Fellow IDEA members, NSCAD design student Sasan Moradian and Dalhousie engineering student Scott Campbell, took a helmet light to a new level. Their blinx product can be used at any time to act as tail lights capable of flashing turning signals.
Many cyclists don’t feel comfortable taking a hand off their bike to signal their direction with an arm, said Moradian, so they can use a remote mounted on their handlebars to control the helmet lights. They can also press a button on the helmet itself.
“We’re trying to find a balance between a Christmas tree and a bike light,” Campbell said with a laugh.
Both bike ideas are being taken to the next stage of prototyping and planning, with a goal of finding out how feasible the products might be to sell for reasonable prices.
Some of the other IDEA products included a yoga chair aid that supports people with mobility issues in various poses and is adjustable (unlike the current chairs), and a garden valet that self-waters and regulates with UV lights.
IDEA open house: All product presentations will be held Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the NSCAD University Port Campus in Room 206. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.