Design students reinvent the wheel

Or, more accurately, pro-bicycle students from Cologne, Zurich and Milan collaborated to dream up a number of bicycle products of the future. These include sports shades with integral digital camera (useful for snapping road rage motorists); a gyroscopically-stabilised unicycle; a means of fixing punctures and regulating tyre pressures on the fly; and the ultimate in bum comfort, a saddle supported not with a seatpost but an electromagnetic field.
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The designs are all part of the 'Visions' exhibition at the IFMA Cologne trade show, 16-19th September.

Professor Jenz Großhan worked with 30 students from his International School of Design, KISD, Cologne; Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Zürich; and the Academy of Art and Design and Politechnico di Milano, Milan.

Großhan wanted the students to "envisage the bicycle and bicycle traffic in 40 years from now."

The projects in the exhibition came about after brainstorming sessions, with no idea considered too wacky, not even the underwater fish-catcher. No doubt you had to be there...

The best projects include the 'module bike' which replaces the office chair at the workplace.

"The user pedals along while working in front of the computer screen. Not only for physical training purposes: the module can be connected to a correspondingly equipped bicycle which gets the biker home after work using the previously stored energy - completely removing the need for pedalling."

The 'sports glasses-mounted camera' "makes action photos possible during cycling, without taking your hands off the handlebars. The operating elements for adjustment of the camera, which are located on a thumb clip or

bicycle glove, make it all possible. State-of-the-art electronics ensure that the sports glasses provide a "Body" large enough to host the camera lens

The 'Pressure Protection' device envisages cartridges located at the centre of the wheel, connected with the valve via

tubes, ensuring that the tyre pressure always remains constant. How would it work?

"One cartridge is filled with a special repair gel which reacts with oxygen. If air enters the tyre due to penetration, the compressed air in the second cartridge ensures that the gel reaches the puncture point, reacts with

oxygen and hardens in the process. The impact point is sealed and the correct air pressure maintained thanks to the second cartridge, which performs the pressure-compensation function."

Ah, and what about that oldest of perceived cycle-problems-needing-a-solution? Numb nuts and butts.

The design professor and his students ignore noseless saddles, inflatable chambers and undercarriage plaster-casting in favour of the less is more approach. They've thrown out the seatpost and replaced it with an electromagnetc field.

"On coarse gravel paths, the biker can thus adjust their saddle to a soft shock-absorber for hard impacts, and on a flat asphalt surface he/she can then adjust it back to a rigid saddle so as not to influence the energy transfer during fast pedalling. Perhaps in the more distant future the bicycle will not need a saddle at all; the electro magnetic field could for example also function with a belt or similar which the biker then places around themselves."

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