Kent Frankovich & Revolights
The Revolights bike lighting system
The Revolights bike lighting system
The Revolights is a very unique solution to bicycle lighting.
We loved the idea that it functions as not only safety lighting for being seen at night from all directions, but also provides additional forward lighting for the rider.
It also provides a nice visual effect when stopped and an overall unique graphic signature.
We liked that the Revolights could be adapted to any bike and that the design was clean and simple.
It also appears that this product could be manufactured at a reasonable cost and therefore accessible to a large number of bicycle riders in many different global markets.
The Revolights bike lighting system
A bike light design project…
The Revolights bike lighting system (patent pending) consists of two narrow rings of LEDs that mount directly to each bike wheel using a series of rim-specific clips. Lithium-ion batteries supply power to the LEDs. The batteries can be charged via USB. A small, fork-mounted magnet and an integrated accelerometer provide speed and orientation data to the rings. This allows the LEDs to illuminate only when oriented at the front or rear of the bicycle.
The spoke/rim/wheel mounted design enables 360 degree visibility to shared road traffic, while also illuminating the rider’s forward path.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
In 2008 :
● The two most frequent causes for the 52,000 reported bicycle accidents are collisions with motor vehicles (58%) and individual falls (30%).
● Of the 716 reported fatalities, 69% occurred in urban areas and 39% were between the hours of 5 p.m. and midnight.
● Nearly 70% of all nighttime Bicycle-Car collisions are due to inadequate side visibility
On the road, bike lights contribute to rider safety in two ways:
1) lighting – allows riders to safely navigate at night by illuminating their forward path.
2) sighting – increases the rider’s front, back, and side visibility which signals their presence (i.e. i am a bike) and location to those sharing the road.
Currently no product on the market provides both lighting and sighting at a functionally high level. Our solution, the Revolights bike lighting system, represents the first fully functional lighting and sighting solution; more specifically, the first solution based on a wheel mounted design.
Our hypothesis… an increase in bicycle lighting and sighting has the potential to reduce rider injuries and fatalities. It’s time to provide riders with a single bike light solution that allows them to safely experience the joy of riding, regardless of the time of day.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Revolights were born of a simple thought, “as Kent (the inventor) was riding home one night, he wondered why his bike’s headlight, meant to illuminate the road ahead of him, was mounted on the handlebars. Why couldn’t the light be closer to the ground?” With an approach inspired by simplicity, Revolights began as Kent’s spare time hobby fueled by his love for both engineering and cycling. Yet since launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for development, Revolights has received a great deal publicity. While the concept began as a mere thought in Kent’s head, we’ve quickly evolved through the following phases: 1) side project, 2) side business, 3) full time job, 4) OK, now we’re a company. Our approach and design has similarly evolved through each stage.
As Revolights, Inc. we now represent an effort to make the roads safer for riders and drivers alike. Our goal, plainly stated, is to lead the bicycle lighting market toward more forward-thinking, safety-minded products for cyclists.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
Research, iteration, and testing.
From Revolights’ inception there have been many engineering challenges. Yet a good representation of the true rigors that informed our project are conveyed through our team’s efforts to address bike light thievery (or anti-theft); a major concern to all cyclists that ride with bike lights… so we would find out.
The first Revolights prototypes were bulky, and cumbersome to install. Prototypes v1 – v3 were designed to address and verify specific product functions such as: light timing, wheel/spoke attachment, circuit layout, etc. Yet at prototype v4 the Revolights design team began to directly address use-ability. In an effort to make the lights simple to install, clips were used to attach the LED rings the spokes/wheel. The hoops were made of rolled aluminum so they could easily be curled into circles that linked together at their ends. After forming the circle, the LED rings could then simply snap into the clips.
At prototype v4, we launched the Revolights Kickstarter campaign and clearly laid out where the product was in development. Update after update, this group became our regular sounding board. As our Kickstarter community grew, so began the feedback. We listened closely to our audience. Unbeknownst to us, one of the top concerns we heard from our stakeholders involved their light’s ability to be stolen. While we had initially focused all our efforts on simplifying installation, we quickly came to realize the flipside of the coin meant we were also making them easier to steal.
In addition to our Kickstarter audience, we regularly showcased the Revolights demo video in places we we could find our target audience; specialty bike store owners, employees, and customers. While garnering feedback from these additional stakeholder, we heard a similar, common concern with theft.
The direct result of accumulated feedback, prototype v5 represented a novel way to address theft. Pv5 continued to utilize clips to mount the LED rings to the wheel spokes, yet the LED rings in Pv5 were also made as a solid rings. The light-weight, solid metal backbone structurally reinforced the rings, and made it so the lights could be locked up with the consumer’s wheels. A new approach to the user experience, through design, now focused on a secure installation, rather than a fast one. If it took the Revolights owner 5 – 10 minutes to install, it would take the same amount of time to un-install when being stolen. At Pv5 the design focus during product installation moved from speed to security as a direct result of user feedback.
Through the evolution of the Revolights bike lighting system our engineering team has developed 7 novel clip concepts, and 6 novel LED ring designs. Through our social media efforts and bike store visits we have directly engaged our target audience, and directly incorporated their feedback through Revolights’ development.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Why we believe? In car vs. bike accidents, bikes lose 100 times out of 100. With cycling on the rise and public policy continuing to integrate bike lanes with automobile roadways, safety has become an ever-increasing consideration for cyclists. Most nighttime bike-car collisions are due to inadequate side visibility; a field of illumination often neglected by traditional bike lights. Revolights uniquely identifies bikes to everyone sharing the road, and presents a novel approach to addressing bike side visibility. Our goal to help cyclists conform to the vehicular standards of road lighting, but in a way that re-brands cyclists different from trucks, cars, motorcycles, etc.
The Revolights bike lighting system is a complete paradigm-shift in bicycle lighting, and provides value that is like no other bike lighting currently on the market. The combination of both forward illumination (lighting) and unique, 360-degree visibility to shared road traffic (sighting) into a single solution, places Revolights into a product category of its own.
On a micro level, Revolights will encourage cyclists to pick up their bikes (a healthy, sustainable means of transportation) and ride more, particularly at night. On a macro level, Revolights will change the way the world views bicycles in low-light conditions, making riding safer for everyone.