A Smart Bike


Summary

Personal clouds can make every thing, even a bike smart. A smart bike has apps and data, just like a smart phone. What would you like a smart bike to do for you?

Bicycle wheels

Imagine a bike for a minute. Bikes aren't smart in the same sense as a smartphone. I don't know of any bikes that have embedded computers. But if a smart bike existed, what could a smart bike do?

Imagine the bike being connected to its manufacturer, the bike store that sold it, and its owner. From its earliest point in being, the bike would be able to keep track of data about itself, things like its specifications, when it was made, and even the provenance of the materials used in its manufacture.

The bike would keep track of inventory data like when it was delivered to the bike shop, who assembled it, its price, and when it was bought and by who.

The bike has it's own interface, creating an experience on-the-fly according to context. The bike would manage its own maintenance, keeping track of what's been done and what needs to be done. The bike alerts its owner when something needs done—the bike is its own TODO list. And if it gets stolen, a "find my bike" service reunites bike and owner. The owner can tell the bike to schedule an appointment with the bike shop or even put together a riding group.

Since the bike is keeping track of it's own data, any maintenance records written by the bike shop end up on the bike. If you go to a different shop, they see the maintenance history regardless of where the maintenance was performed.

If the owner decides to sell the bike, it can manage its own listing. When the bike is sold, the bike keeps its smarts. The new owner can see the maintenance logs and anything else specific to the bike. The previous owner's personal information, however is not intermingled with the bike's and thus there's no privacy concern.

None of this functionality or even the data schema is fixed. The smart bike can be continuously updated with new apps as the owner's needs changes. The possibilities are limited only by our imagination. Of course, it's not just bikes, it's everything. Literally anything at all could be smart.

The secret to seeing how a smart bike is possible is to realize that the computer doesn't have to be in the bike. Rather the computer can be in the cloud. Any bike, even one you bought years ago can be made smart by giving the bike a personal cloud. Personal clouds, cloud-based virtual machines, can be created that are cheap and facile enough to literally make every thing smart.

What else would a smart bike do? If you have an idea, please leave a comment.