BackTracker: We Make The Road A Safer Place For Cyclists
People from outside this area often ask me, ”What is it like to live in Silicon Valley?” For me, it’s an interesting question because Silicon Valley is unusual in that it grew so rapidly and is relatively affluent. Being situated between dry farmland and the ocean, this environment combines the wide daily temperature swings of an arid climate with the moderate temperatures of seaside towns. Not too hot, not too cold! And because about 40 percent of Bay Area commuters live within just five miles of their workplace, a bike-able distance for even inexperienced cyclists, it’s not surprising that there are more than 60,000 cyclists in Silicon Valley—and way too many fatalities every year.
The single greatest cause of bicycle fatalities and likely every cyclist’s greatest nightmare is rear-end collision. Even if we have rear-view mirrors, and cycle defensively, cyclists remain vulnerable on the road.
Backtracker aims to change the face of road safety for cyclists by providing them with affordable, military-grade radar technology to warn them of approaching vehicles from behind, while also warning drivers that a cyclist is up ahead.
In addition, it also warns drivers that they are approaching a cyclist who is using an intelligent backlight system. The cyclist safety system is designed by iKubu, a South African startup that specializes in computer vision and radar systems.
Backtracker has two components: A radar + rear light device that attaches onto the seat post to track traffic and warn approaching cars of the cyclist’s presence, and a second component, which attaches to the handlebars to allow the rider to monitor what’s happening behind him.
The intuitive display shows the cyclist a number of things: the number of cars behind him, the distance between the cyclist and the cars, and the speed difference of the approaching traffic. The backlight on the radar component additionally warns traffic of the cyclist’s presence on the road. The lights blink faster and brighter as a car approaches.
RADAR has many advantages over traditional rearview mirrors:
- It works when visibility is compromised, which is when cyclists need it most. For example, in the rain, fog, blinding sunlight, or total darkness, RADAR will still perform.
- It tracks cars from the distance up to 140 yards.
- It detects speed, which is not easy to gauge using a mirror.
- It is less distracting. Helmet rearview mirrors can move around a lot, forcing a cyclist to take his eyes off the road.
Backtracker is the first application in the world to integrate military-grade radar technology in a consumer device. Since July, the company has launched a crowdfunding campaign aiming to collect the necessary funds for mass production of the system. And up until now, they have raised over $100,000.
Backtracker is looking for distributors in each region and strategic partners with deep knowledge of the bicycle industry.
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