Placing LEDs in bicycle wheels is nothing new. Over the years there have been a variety of wheel-placed LEDs which, with a bicycle in motion, create circles of light. There are LEDs to place on valve caps and LEDs which snap on to spokes. But US industrial design students Ethan Frier and Johnathan Ota have created a system which is powered by a dynamo hub, allowing brighter LEDs to be used, and with a motion-sensor that turns white spinning LEDs red when a bike speeds up.
The pair created their Project Aura system for their industrial design course at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
There’s a Vimeo video of the lights in action. Cyclists become highly visible from the side: well, their wheels become visible, spinning circles of bright lights. Even from a distance, a bicycle equipped with the Project Aura lights is highly conspicuous.
Project Aura is a Small Undergraduate Research Grant funded project and has not yet been commercialised.
In a presentation the pair wrote:
"We created a system that requires very little rider input and maintenance, while increasing the visual footprint of bikers from all directions, especially from the side.
"We accomplished this by expanding the surface area of light emitted through the use of RGB LEDs inside the rims of the wheels that change from red when slowing down to white when at cruising speed.
"By illuminating the form of the wheels, we increase the overall presence of the bicycle from all directions and create a more intuitive and recognizable form."