Tech Tips

It’s a balmy evening in Davis, a perfect time and temperature for a breezy cruise on your bike through town. You saddle up the good ol’ cruiser, head out and have a splendid evening — but all of that is about to change.

At the beginning of your intended return back to your apartment, you notice that you’ve conveniently removed and forgotten your bike light. Upon your ride up Third Street, you end up flipping over your handlebars because someone decided it was a good idea to put their unwanted twigs, lawn-clippings and leaf debris in a neat pile by the curb.

Truth be told, you probably wouldn’t have seen the road obstruction even if you had your bike light, which provides a dim, pathetic excuse for an illuminated path. Fortunately, however, design students at Sichuan University in China are on their way to releasing a new device that will improve the reliability of bike lights.

The Lumigrid bike light design is an ingenious one to say the least. Instead of the tunneled light beam that is oftentimes insufficient in alerting us of objects on the road ahead, Lumigrid technology projects a distinct, clear-cut light-grid onto the ground before the bike. Not only will the intensity of the beam effectively alert cars, pedestrians and other bikers of your whereabouts, you’re about 500 percent more likely to spot upcoming potholes and road imperfections than the guy next to you. The unique grid produced by the Lumigrid projector beam warps with imperfections on the upcoming ground. The gridlines themselves don’t cast shadows on convex or concave areas of the road like traditional bike lights, but instead illuminate variations via the deformation of the grid.

While forgetting your bike light is a deeply annoying, recurring problem that may never go away, Lumigrid may soon provide a safer and more vivid alternative to traditional night cycling.

EMILY SEFEROVICH can be reached at science@theaggie.org.

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