With a new concept bike from Parlee Cycles and Toyota “it’s just like riding a bike” takes on a whole new meaning. The concept bike isn’t like all the others: It possesses the power to read your mind.
Even though the bike looks completely normal, the headgear is a dead giveaway. Like something out of a sci-fi movie, the “neurohelmet” comes equipped with plastic “tentacles” and metal sensors that are oh-so-comfortably pressed against the cyclist’s scalp.
With minimal training — and perhaps a little sweet talking? — a cyclist can shift the gears on the bike with just a thought. One type of brain wave instructs the bike to shift downward, while another type causes it to shift upward. It definitely takes some practice, so until your mental powers are refined, prepare to be tossed over the handlebars, steered into a giant pile of leaves or flung into the side of a parked car.
What’s novel about this mind-reading bike, however, is not the technology itself, but the way all of the technologies have been mashed together. Here’s the equation: a smartphone + a widely-available app (which monitors the rider’s heart rate, pace, speed, brain waves, and even cycling habits) + some geeky-looking neuroheadsets (made by Neurosky and Emotiv) = 21st century tech wizardry.
And for this specific project, a lightweight laptop was slipped inside the back of the cyclist’s jersey so that it could “talk” to the neuroheadset, the smart phone app, and the wiring inside the bike.
Rest assured, there is a built-in failsafe, too: If the brain waves are ever misinterpreted, the cyclist can switch a setting on the smart phone app to manually control the bike.
While this “PXP” design will not be sold on the market, “neurocontrollable” things — including future bikes, gadgets and even prosthetics — will likely become more commonplace. In fact, Parlee plans to release a new road bike in 2012 or 2013 inspired by the PXP design.
What the bike cannot do is read the minds of the motorists that pass by your two-wheeler on busy streets. But we all know what those minds are thinking.