Although there are some notable crowdfunding successes, few of them actually make a strong argument for the betterment of society. New York based startup Flykly did just that when they shared their vision for the future of urban mobility. The Smart Wheel is one of those products you immediately think : “How come we didn’t have this by now ?” – and rightfully so!
Electric bicycles never really took off and probably because of their pricey tags – starting around 1.000€ and quickly stretching upwards, it’s not an easy purchase for the crowds. When Niko Klansek founded Flykly and set out to develop the smart wheel, they really focused on putting the cost down, not only to entice consumers but also to keep competitive with their Asian counterparts. Entirely produced in Slovenia and in the US (to support both US and European markets) the Smart Wheel has all the components of an electric bicycle in a single wheel. Meaning that if you already have your insert-fancy-designer-bike-brand-here bicycle, you simple substitute your back wheel with the 430€ Smart Wheel (Smart Light included) and you get a full featured electric bicycle.
What makes the Smart Wheel a really clever product is that it’s a location-aware bicycle, meaning that with the information of the GPS hosted inside the wheel, you can use their official app to compete with friends on your daily commute and to find better routes. The app will find you routes that are more fun, and this really gave me a kick – Flykly is crossing data from Foursquare and Google Maps to find the best streets with bike lanes and shops that you like. Again, because it’s a location-aware bicycle, Flykly is gathering anonymous data from all Smart Wheel users, and gathering a ton of data that have real value for better urban planning, which can be sold to cities, creating another big revenue source and improving transportation quality at the same time. Since it’s a smart and social product of course, there is also a gamification layer to it, with plenty of badges for personal gratification and social bragging.
Although production will be entirely in the US and Europe, they are accepting worldwide online orders, giving themselves a lot of work. And of course, there is only so much a team of 11 people can do, that’s why Flykly has also launched a SDK for third party developers – and apparently some cool stuff is already in the works, for example Fitbit integration so that your bike automatically registers your cycling activities (I have been waiting for this one so much!), another developer is working on an app that uses your bicycle as a indoor exercise bike, using the Smart Wheel motor to accelerate or break to give you the impression that you are going uphill or downhill (of course you need to have an accessory to support your bike and prevent yourself from going out of the windows!). The Smart Wheel is extremely enticing to daily commuters, and if you consider the cost you save on gas, the 430€ is really a no brainer. On top of the wheel itself and the mobile app, the company is developing the Smart Light – charges with your pedaling to fuel the light and charge your phone.
So what about their Kickstarter campaign? The goal was to raise 100.000$ which they achieved in 1,5 days. Now they are 2 days ahead of the campaign deadline and have raised over 600.000$, which puts the company in a much more comfortable position in terms of CF management. Production and shipping are scheduled for May 2014. If you want to pre-order your wheel or just share some love with Flykly, check out their website.
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