Blubel Tech harnesses the satellite navigation capabilities of modern smartphones for the benefit of cyclists. Their chief product, the Blubel, is designed to guide cyclists on their path in an elegant and safe way.
The Blubel is a small circular device that can be fixed to the handlebars of a bicycle. It features a clock-like face with a ring of clear LED lamps. The lamps light up and serve as the main interface of communication for the device, indicating a navigational action at every intersection.
The visual information that Blubel displays is simple. Blinking green lights gesture the direction of an upcoming turn. One blue light remains on and is fixed on the bearing of your destination (which is punched in on the smartphone app). The device acts as a ‘smart’ compass.
The founder of Blubel Tech is London-based entrepreneur Sasha Afanasieva. According to the creator, Blubel needs to be clear enough to understand while cycling without it being a distraction.
“If you’re on your bike, you want to have your eyes on the road. So we’ve got a little buzzer in the device so that, just before you are coming up to a turn, it will ‘ping’ you a message so you can look down and see where you actually need to go," she says.
The Blubel chimes when a new gesture lights up – a convenient signal for the cyclist to glance down at the device. One’s gaze does not need to be fixed on it for it to work effectively. It provides navigation in an intuitive way.
Afanaseiva emphasises the power of community that Blubel will draw from. The Blubel device, in tandem with the accompanying smartphone app, sends data to the Blubel Cloud database. Aggregated data allows the Blubel to make informed decisions with regards to traffic congestion and unsafe areas. The Blubel becomes smarter with use, guiding the cyclist and rerouting his/her path should a hazardous area draw near.
Blubel Tech’s mission is to unlock the benefits of cycling (reducing air pollution, increasing physical fitness) by making it relaxing and as safe as possible. The company aims to influence city planning and urban design for the better by analysing the collective data of Blubel’s user base.
The Blubel project was crowdfunded successfully on Kickstarter and won the IBM and Venturespring Smart City Challenge of 2015. Blubel Tech is currently part of the IBM Global Entrepreneur program.