eSocialBike: the e-bike industry revolution
eSocialBike comes from the idea of the future suggested by emerging trends, such as the role of smartphones in daily life and the rise of electric mobility: it is an integrated system of both diagnostic hardware and social application that makes instant diagnosis of electric bicycle and allows to share e-mobility experience on social networks. The result for e-bikers is an overall new and improved user experience.
The use of electric bicycles in the world has been rapidly growing since 1998. Sales of e-bikes are rapidly expanding in India, United States of America, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The trend shows a significant increase also in Europe, leading to a total amount of 1,200,000 bicycles sold in 2012, with Italy that still hovers around 20,000 units. The overall growth rate of this market ranges between 15% and 20% yearly.
This story begins when Matteo Pertosa and his team who ranked first with the iBike project (Improve the experience of electric bike users) in the Smart Mobility category of the Smart Cities and Social Innovation call for proposals, a specific funding dedicated to under 30’s innovators and promoted by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research in the framework of the National Operative Programme for Research and Competitiveness 2007-2013.
This project aims at encouraging and promoting the use of electric bicycles through eSocialBike: a technological innovation that makes bicycle an active element of the web.
Logo eSocialBikeeSocialBike is a perfect example of the application of "internet of things", a theory formulated at the beginning of the millennium for the extension of Internet to objects, which become recognizable and acquire intelligence due to the fact of being able to communicate information about themselves and to access information aggregated by others. Some examples? Alarm clocks ringing before in case of traffic, garden plants communicating to the watering cans when they need water, sneakers transmitting time, speed and distance to compete in real time with people on the other side of the globe.
By exploiting the potentials of smartphones and cloud computing, eSocialBike improves the overall experience of riders: a new paradigm e-bike-user-producer, based on real-time support and activation of social dynamics.
The system is made of four elements:
- Electronics aboard the bike that constantly monitors the health status of battery.
- An application for smartphones that communicates via bluetooth with the vehicle and, if necessary, sends directly to the producer all the necessary parameters for evaluation and diagnosis of possible breakdowns.
- A web application where the producer can monitor, in real time, the state of aging and health of each vehicle.
- A social application through which the e-biker can interact with others sharing on facebook, twitter and a specific green social network paths taken and CO2 emissions saved every day.
The idea is to develop and make available a network where each user becomes testimonial and spokesperson for sustainable mobility.
Made the concept, to overcome the start-up phase and produce and market the prototype, the iBike Association (set up thanks to MIUR funding) started a partnership with Sitael SpA, one of the leading companies in Apulia (Italy) in the electronics space sector, recently shifted to press notoriety for the involvement in the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) mission of Curiosity Rover. Thanks to the support of Nicola Zaccheo, CEO of Sitael, the team of 8 guys is working hard to make eSocialBike a finished product.
The novelty and the commercial interest of industry giants for eSocialBike was confirmed by Edward Benjamin, president of LEVA (Light Vehicle Industry Association), who met the iBike boys in Taiwan, during an important Asian trade fair of this sector. LEVA represents the interests of the most important electric vehicles manufacturers and retailers in the world; Benjamin flew from Florida to Bari (in Italy) a few weeks after the first meeting, expressly to attend the official presentation of the project and to see the first output of the research.
During his speech, Benjamin talked about eSocialBike as a revolutionary system that will bring real added value to the market of e-bikes in the coming years. Combining "innovation" and "internationalization" - two words that are very much used in TV talk shows and very little in the national business context - is one of the few effective recipes to create value and employment in a general context of crisis and emergency. But that’s exactly what these guys are trying to do.