Ben Heck Invents Proximity Sensors for Cyclists, Proves Nerds Can Be Cool

Ben Heck makes a proximity sensor for bicycles to avoid the door zone

Prolific inventor/hacker/modder Ben Heck has turned his talents to cyclists with a sonar-like proximity sensor that alerts cyclists when they’re in the “door zone.” The handlebar mounted device uses Parallax ping sensors to determine distance from cars on either side. It flashes warning lights to let you know if you’re too close on the right or left and even has a built in ambient light sensor to dim the lights at night. After all, you don’t want them to be distracting.

His weekly video episode is embedded after the break that shows the full development cycle. Nerdy as it is, it’s pretty darn cool and creative folks could mod this into a garage door sensor for roof racks or whatever else your imagination cooks up…

Very jealous of his workshop.

Comments

moz - 09/28/11 - 9:18am

This is a really revolutionary device. Mostly for urban riders or commuters but more practical than everything else I have seen here. I believe that within a few moths he is going to come up with safety devices similar to respective car devices related to the safe distance between 2 cars etc. Of course, more batteries, more weight on your bike & not much attention to the road since you need to look at them every once and while. Still, more meaningful than the rest gadgets.

dgaddis - 09/28/11 - 9:25am

If you need a sensor to tell you that you’re too close to cars, you don’t need to be riding in traffic.

Rob E. - 09/28/11 - 10:52am

My thought is that if this could be used to trigger video capture, you could capture unsafe passing and maybe even collisions.

Androo - 09/28/11 - 11:02am

I think it’s a useful idea for some areas, but I have to admit, for many (most?) commuters in dense urban areas, that alarm would be blaring almost the entire time. Downtown congestion is too bad, and quarters are just too tight to avoid the door zone in everyday riding.

And yes, I know the vehicular cycling argument, but the pragmatic commuter also knows that taking a lane is not always the safest option, despite it being a legal right…

uglyyeti - 09/28/11 - 12:16pm

I developed an early prototype of this system when I was a kid. It was called “riding my bike to play street hockey” and included holding a long wooden stick across my handlebar. It might not have been a very good early warning system, but it sure kept pedestrians clear.

Editz - 09/28/11 - 12:53pm

I suppose there will come a day when bike sensors like these will interact with on-board automobile sensors to prevent drivers from opening their doors or moving their vehicles if there’s a passing bicycle. Take human out of the equation and things get a lot safer.

Ronin Six - 09/28/11 - 6:07pm

A device that lights up when something gets three feet from you. “That’s just brilliant, because a tiny red light is a lot easier to see than a car door. Also, everybody knows that car doors open very slowly, which is why you’ve got plenty of time to monitor a device, then spot the car door, and then take evasive action. I’m not sure what his next project will be, but maybe he can come up with something that lights up when you’re lying underneath a truck. ” (BSNYC, QFT)

moz - 09/29/11 - 6:55am

I believe that in terms of safety, especially at night, you should reconsider your comments. I presume that this device is aiming at urban/commuting use and during the night with some improvements throughout the months it could be quite handy particularly for children or older people. Thus I found a meaning for its ‘existence’. I mean that if you need an electric pedal to see your improvement as a rider as if you are unable to see it via your endurance & your speed, if you need an iphone app to set up your suspensions as if it is an F1 car or just a hub to charge your mobile while you riding. Then you simply wanna fulfill your ego as fashion victim/geek & not as rider.

moz - 09/29/11 - 6:59am

Did I mention e-shifting? Oh! of course not! Yes it also pretty handy if you wanna overtake a scouter.

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