A smart solution in a simple package, Blubel is an unassuming Bluetooth device that mounts to your handlebars, serving as both a bike bell and crowdsourced navigation system specifically for cyclists. It pairs with your smartphone (which, once you enter your destination, you stow safely away until your ride is over) to provide you with directions on the go. If you make a wrong turn, like any good navigation system, it'll recalculate your route. Once you get to your destination, Blubel even remembers where you parked your bike.
The crowdsourcing comes into play whenever you ring your bell. It's a bit like Waze, but in way different packaging and designed specifically for the benefit of cyclists. Blubel takes note of where you and other riders ring the bell in order to alert users of congestion and possible hazards or help you plan your route to avoid such obstacles. You should be enjoying the ride, after all.
Its simplicity makes it easy to use. A brief glance down toward your handlebars lets you know where your destination is and what your next turn will be. It's colored LED lights guide the way: blue points toward your destination, and the green light gestures to indicate an upcoming turn, accompanied by a sound alert. A flashing yellow light will let you know if there's a hazard you need to look out for.
Of course, you can customize your preferences through the Blubel app, as well. Users can personalize routes, or follow curated routes that take them past noteworthy sites. Depending on where you're riding, Bluebel can help you avoid roadwork or air pollution. Plus, you can track your time, distance, speed, and calories burned through the app.
Although the project has developed partnerships with IBM and the European Space Agency's Business Incubator Center, Bluebel has started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in order to secure their preferred manufacturers, ensure timely production, and gather more feedback from the community. Through the campaign, supporters can get the basic, black Blubel for about $72 (a discount over the retail price), with limited edition colors available for a few bucks more. Delivery of rewards are scheduled for the end of 2016. Check out the video above to learn more.