You may well have heard about Silicon Valley and Silicon Roundabout, but have you heard of Silicon Fen? The cluster of technology companies in Cambridge continues to be one of the most important centres for innovation in Europe and we're fortunate to be amongst this collection of forward thinkers. One of the great things about being based within the Fen is the opportunity to share knowledge and occasionally collaborate with the other companies around us.
One example of this is some work CSR has done recently with Cambridge Consultants, the product developers behind everything from the latest asthma inhaler training devices to developing the perfect pint. In my previous post I discussed how the new Bluetooth Smart standard would, because of its low power consumption, open up doors for a whole new range of connected devices. The development pioneered by Cambridge Consultants has created a one of a kind connected bike that uses Bluetooth Smart to control the electronic gears wirelessly. Cambridge Consultants took a high-performance road bike with an electronic gear changer and cut the wires between the controls and the gears, adding a CSR Bluetooth Smart Ready module to connect the gears to buttons on the handle bars.
"So what?" you might say, "I can't see the wires anyway so why does this make any difference to me?" Well yes, as a cyclist, you wouldn't see anything different in the way you changed the gears. But the important thing here is that the wireless connection enables you to bring in the intelligence of your smartphone or media player.
To demonstrate the power of this, the iPhone app developed by Cambridge Consultants controls the gears automatically to maintain perfect cadence adjusting to the surrounding conditions - so if you're approaching a junction or going up a hill it could adjust accordingly.
The smartphone is a powerful machine, and the app could be extended to create a personal workout changing the effort through the ride, combining with GPS to track and anticipate those hills, and even mixing a personal audio playlist with voice prompts to keep you going.
Connectivity of the smartphone also opens up a whole host of new ways that riders can increase their performance. For example, training programmes (routes, speeds, sprints, etc.) could be developed by a community of users, and the system could not only monitor the rider in following the regime, but could actively help them meet the goals set, and share targets with other riders.
The bike is an exciting example of the potential Bluetooth Smart has to really benefit our health and fitness regimes. It gives us added insight into our training and helps to motivate and support us to achieve bigger and better things. It's also a great showcase of the kind of innovation that's coming from our small corner of East Anglia - long may it continue.