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Project Aura Pilot Test Program

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We've been MIA for the past few months and now it's time to share what we've been up to.

We are starting to put together a very early test pilot program for a limited number of Aura units. 

If you are interested in helping us out, please fill out this short (literally like 3 minutes or less) survey help us get to know you a bit better.

Thanks!

Bike PGH Bikefest kickoff party

We are in the midst of BikeFest here in Pittsburgh. Organized by BikePGH, BikeFest is a two week long schedule of bike rides and other bike related activities happening throughout Pittsburgh.  The festivities are kicked off every year with the BikeFest Kickoff party, held this year at the Pittsburgh Opera.  We were lucky enough to be able to showcase Project Aura at the party, as the wheel of swag.  Partygoers spun our wheels for the opportunity to win a variety of prizes.

We have gone on a couple night rides as part of Bikefest the past couple nights and will be posting some photos and videos of that soon.  

 

the wheel of swag

the wheel of swag

full swing during the party

full swing during the party

Check out the parking lot, over 75% of people rode their bike to the party. 

Check out the parking lot, over 75% of people rode their bike to the party. 

Project Aura featured on Core77

This week Core77 ran a three part series we wrote for them chronicling the development of Project Aura over the past couple years. We're both really excited about these articles, and we hope it gives you a better idea of what we have been up to. It's impossible to describe everything in only a few short articles, but it provides a nice summary of some of our activity.  

Part 1   - How we started the project and realized that we should actually build a product

Part 2   - Product development and lessons learned

Part 3 - Jon and Ethan interview each other about the history of the project. 

Pittsburgh bike share program.

Bike share is coming to the 412! The stations are scheduled to be ready by next summer and we at Project Aura really believe this kind of program will be a huge boost for the city. People are afraid of change and love their cars as we saw with the variety of reactions to New York's CitiBike program. But we're optimistic that the same backlash will not happen here. Giving people access to well maintained bikes for short trips around their neighborhoods or farther will hopefully encourage Pittsburghers to appreciate bikes as a fun and convenient way to get around.  

We have always said that in the grand scheme of things, lights are helpful but not the most effective way to making riding bikes safer.  The most important advancements for bike safety are societal. Being (a) infrastructure, and (b) the general attitude of the population towards bikers. Hopefully a bike share program will help with both of these. If you are riding in a separated lane and the people around you respect your existence, you are far safer than riding in the roadway even if you're blazin brighter than the Friday night fireworks at PNC Park.

It is a shame that the federal funding of the program was cut in half, meaning we get 500 bikes at 50 stations instead of 1000 bikes at 100 stations, but this will still be a huge victory for Pittsburgh.  

Learn more about it at www.pghbikeshare.org.

 

Bike commuters save the government $21 per trip

An Australian study found "The economy benefits by more than $21 every time a person cycles 20 minutes to work and back and $8.50 each time a person walks 20 minutes to and from work".  The Australian government says that all future road infrastructure projects will include separated bike paths, and is making alternative transportation a priority. 

 

Full article here: 

http://www.smh.com.au/national/bike-riders-save-economy-21-on-each-commute-20130730-2qxdg.html#ixzz2akBIuEkC

Thoughts on the bigger picture

Our mission is to promote the bicycle as a practical and equal member of the roadway by providing riders with a bicycle light which makes you more visible and identifiable as a cyclist, while also being a novel/cool/beautiful addition to your bike. However, we have always had a bigger goal than just making a great bicycle light, but I don't think we ever really put out there our bigger thinking behind this project.  

Our greater goal is to get more people to ride bikes as a practical means of transportation. A study done in New Orleans found that when the city built more bike lanes, more people started riding.  This may sound obvious but I think it's an important idea. The whole, "if you build it they will come" concept - when you provide riders with the infrastructure that supports riding more safely, suddenly more people decide to ride bikes. The motivation behind our project parallels this idea. By providing riders with a bicycle light more effective than using solely front and rear lights (you should still use your front and rear lights in addition to our wheel lights), perhaps we can encourage more people to bike and commute.  

Something we didn't really anticipate which I find fascinating is the reactions we get to the lights when we ride around Pittsburgh. People constantly will yell or point, and drivers have even pulled up and thanked us because we were more visible. But the most interesting thing is that more often than not people will yell "nice bike" instead of "nice lights". This may seem like a technicality but I think it's important. The single largest issue with cycling in the US, in my opinion, is the attitude that non bikers have towards cyclists. There is this underlying hatred, or at the very least annoyance people have towards bike commuters. This attitude influences public policy, the lack of biking infrastructure, road rage incidents, and general war between the bike and non-bike camps.  Ignorant and single minded people such as Dorothy Rabinowitz fuel this war and only set back society.

The ultimate accomplishment for us would be if these glowing wheels could perhaps help drivers, pedestrians and non-bikers to see bikes in a more positive light. When you see these wheel lights on the road, the novelty of it makes you stop and think for a split second about a bike in a positive way, or at the very least, not in a negative way. When most drivers or pedestrians notice or think about bikes it is because they have just witnessed a biker run a stop sign, ride against a one way street, speed down a sidewalk or cut somebody off. Our hope is that these lights can literally help people see bikes, to avoid hitting them with cars, doors, or fists, but also to help people see bikes as an equal and technologically contemporary member of the roadway. 

The Product

We realized that we never explained what newest version of our product does. So, we made another video for you. Enjoy. 

We're baaaack!

We have neglected this pretty little blog for far too long. But just because we weren’t writing doesn’t mean we weren’t working.  A lot has happened in the past months.  Perhaps the most significant being that in May we both graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with degrees in Industrial design.  We had a great time there, learned a lot, met, incredible people and did thought provoking work on a consistant basis, but it’s time to move on to the next chapter. 

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The project is growing in both scope and scale. We are finishing up the 4th version of the prototype. This new version is battery powered, with a small unit that attaches to the hub of each wheel.  We are waiting now for circuit boards to come back from the manufacturer, but we will write more about that later. We also built a new website and designed a logo and brand.  Back in April we won an Alva Fellowship which is an award in partnership with the 99u Conference, a project of Behance. The Award is sponsored by Behance, Adobe and GE. We got to attend the conference In New York, which was awesome and we also get to talk to smart people at GE about our idea. Project Aura is also now officially Project Aura LLC, we finally decided to trade up for the big boy pants, which really just means that we get to pay taxes. The last major development was the filing of our full US patent which we finished back in December, it was a huge relief to get that out the door. 

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As far as our future, we have chosen to stay here in Pittsburgh to work on the project. We are working on refining the prototype and are going to be posting a bunch more content online. We have done some great photo shoots recently, and we just finished a brand new video which we are really excited about.We are also starting to look for bigger companies to help us make this prototype a reality. Other than that it’s just the daily grind, this is now our job now which is pretty cool when you think about it. We are excited for the future of this project and want to keep sharing all of our progress with you so please check up on us.