Is Laser Spoke (Potentially) the Next Big Thing in Power Meters?
Ok, power lovers, imagine this: what if there was a power meter that was accurate, light weight, fit any of your wheels, you were able to switch back and forth between bikes, and was fairly inexpensive? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that’s exactly what Laser Spoke creator Gennady Lubarsky is envisioning with his laser based power meter. Yes, lasers.
Like many before him, Lubarsky has turned to crowd-funding with a project on Indigogo in an attempt to fund development and production of Laser Spoke. Rather than a dedicated hub, crank, bottom bracket, or pedal based power system, Laser Spoke is intended to be an add on for any wheel that allows for accurate power measurement. Lubarsky is quick to point out that the working prototype above is considerably more bulky than what he plans for the final product, which will be manufactured from injection molded plastic, rather than the aluminum housing of the prototype.
How would a laser based power meter work? More after the break.
Instead of utilizing strain gauges like a lot of the power meters on the market, Laser Spoke instead uses lasers to measure the deflection, or “wind up” of the rim in relation to the hub. Of course different wheels will have different deflections, which will mean the need for an accurate calibration for each rider and wheel set up. Lubarsky claims this is their patent pending secret weapon, in that the Laser Spoke will allow for “real time calibration by the user on the go,” allowing for accurate results. To capture the laser measurement, an optical module assembly must be attached to the rim – in this case around the valve core. The laser enters the optical module, then is relayed back to the hub where the difference is measured. To complete the power equation, the hub mounted unit will include two accelerometers to measure speed.
Of course, if everything works out and the Laser Spoke makes it to production, it has the potential to change the power market completely – but there are a lot of obstacles ahead. Namely, figuring out a truly universal mount to accommodate all of the different sized and shaped hub shells on the market. If Lubarsky finds a way to do that, as well as integrating ANT+ as he plans, and hits his weight target of 150g for the LS Pro, and his accuracy target of 1-2%, the end result will be very interesting. You would then have the potential to use one power meter on your road bike, tri bike, fixed gear, mountain bike, or even a BMX bike without forcing you into certain wheels, cranks, or pedals.
However, the finished product seems to be a long way off, especially if the Indiegogo project is any indication. Of his $85,000 goal, backers have only pledged $631 with another 34 days left. For more information on the project, jump on Laser Spoke’s site here.