Backtracker is a Stellenbosch innovation that uses radar tech to keep cyclist safe

Backtracker radar tech to keep cyclist safe–a SA innovation

South Africa’s Silicon-Valley of Stellenbosch is continuing to produce world-class products. The latest innovation comes from iKubu whose invention is aimed at keeping the millions of cyclist safe on the road as they tackle one of the biggest frustration of cycling – the fear of the unknown of what is coming up behind you…

iKubu, a Stellenbosch based company made up of a team of 9 individuals,  developed Backtracker, a radar system that is mounted to the back of the bicycle which constantly monitors the road behind the cyclist. As soon as a vehicle is detected up to 150 yards (137 meters) the front unit which is mounted on the handlebars start to illuminate warning the cyclist of the approaching vehicle. As the car inches closer to the cyclist the LED moves up towards the top Green LED which is the cyclist.  Should there be multiple cars, each one is is represented by a new LED light.

The back radar unit has a red set of lights that flash more intensely as the car approaches which makes the cyclist even more visible to the vehicle.

The back Radar unit and the front unit communicate with each other via low energy Bluetooth so there are no cumbersome wires that need to be affixed to the bike. The units have 1200 mAh battery which should last around 8 hours on a full charge and take 1.5 hours to charge using a mini-usb port.

The system was developed after one of the Product Development Mangers encountered a cyclist who was cycling against the flow of traffic. The cyclist said that he felt unsafe not knowing what is coming up behind him and rather face traffic head-on. The product was born.

iKubu is currently using the crowd fund-raising platform Dragon Innovation to raise $226 000. They chose this platform over Kickstarter or Indiegogo as Dragon platform is specific built for hardware based projects which don’t simply accept any project onto the platform only those that have been certified as legitimate and with the best chances of success.

Should their project be successful, they will produce the Backtracker system jointly in China and in South Africa and have already attracted the attention of investors so the company is confident that this product will be launched to the cycling market.

Backtracker is expected to retail at R2500 but is available now for $199 at this link

UPDATE 14 January 2015: Garmin® Acquires Assets of iKubu®, Developer of Backtracker Bike Radar

According to the Garmin press release, Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s president and CEO is quoated as saying that “iKubu has found a way to implement short-range radar into a low-power system that addresses a common concern among cyclists – identifying potential hazards that are approaching them from behind,…We are delighted to add this technology to the Garmin portfolio.”

Backtracker radar tech to keep cyclist safe–a SA innovationBacktracker radar tech to keep cyclist safe–a SA innovation

One comment

  1. I fail to see how this will assist cyclists, save for allowing them to judge exactly when to expect an impact from behind.

    That said, if a condition of being able to use this fancy piece of kit is that they’ll actually have to abide by the rules of the road in having a rear light that works AND that is switched on… well, maybe there’s hope.

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