Did you know you’re supposed to have an auditory warning device when you ride your bike? Yeah, the judge might not accept your own voice, however audible, as meeting this requirement if you ever get ticketed. Frolic Studio, based in Amsterdam (one of the most bike-packed cities in the world) gets that, so they made Pingbell, a smart bike bell, available on Kickstarter right now.
This device is great for areas where there are a ton of bikes. With cars, the old trick was to tie a bright ribbon to your antenna (at least before antennae went automatic), but you can’t do that with bikes. Pingbell acts like a bike locator — once you’ve linked Pingbell to its app on your phone, you can just park and walk away. Pingbell’s app records your bike’s location.
It doesn’t, however, provide real-time location data, which would drink battery both on your phone and in the device — it acts more like a location saver. If your bike is moved, though, you won’t know until you return to the scene of the crime.
If you forget where you parked, just tap the iOS or Android app to remotely ping the bell and follow the sound. If pinging the bell would draw too much attention for your liking, you can just blink the light ring situated at the base of the bell. And if you can’t hear the ring or see the light, Pingbell uses Bluetooth Smart and a map to tell you if you’re getting hot or cold.
From the outside Pingbell looks like a regular — albeit well-made — bike bell, and the internals hold up to the same scrutiny. Even when you ping it remotely, it actually rings rather than squeaking out an electronic beep. The bell is made of brass, and produces a rich ring that carries well, and seems to say, “hey!” which can be taken for either “Over here!” or “Look out!”
The location tracking can be extended to more than one Pingbell. You can see where your Pingbells are on the map, and share their locations. This makes Pingbell a great addition to a fleet of rental bikes, and makes them an unobtrusive tracker for your children (or significant other, if it’s gotten to that point).
Of course, none of these features would be worth the bell’s weight in brass if anyone could easily remove it. Pingbell comes with a tamper-proof screw mounting system. You’ll need a special key to get it off. Thankfully you’ll only need to remove it once a year or so to charge it, which you can do easily via USB.
The company is seeking $44,960 and their campaign ends September 30. The early birds sales at around $40 and $45 are all gone, but you can still grab one for $50, or two for about $96. Or, if you just want a nice brass bike bell without the electronic internals or the app, you can contribute about $30. Considering the money goes toward launching a new product, and dumb bike bells range in price from $10 aluminum affairs to about $30 online after shipping, that’s not a bad deal.