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Backtracker gives cyclists radar eyes in back of their heads

The road is a dangerous place for cyclists. In addition to the oncoming barrage of obstacles in front of you, you’ve also got giant hunks of steel hurtling up from behind you. Mirrors mounted on your helmet or handlebars can give you an extra bit of situational awareness, but your eyes can only see so far.

Enter Backtracker: an upcoming bike accessory from South African startup iKubu that uses radar to detect objects coming up on your rear. It’s like having an extra pair of eyes in the back of your head. Using a special short range radar technology, the device can detect cars and other approaching objects from up to 150 yards behind you.

The device itself consists of two separate components: a rear-facing radar module that’s attached just beneath your seat, and a special LED indicator panel that communicates speed and distance data with an easy-to-understand visual display. It also works in reverse, so in addition to alerting you when there’s a car coming up on your rear, there’s also an intelligent backlighting system that blinks progressively faster as a car approaches from behind, thereby alerting drivers to your presence.

Obviously this isn’t a full replacement for a rear-view mirror or a quick over-the-shoulder glance, but the extra bit of awareness Backtracker provides definitely can’t hurt. Anything that keeps you from becoming roadkill is a winner in our book.

The Backtracker’s creators have turned to crowdfunding to help raise the $226,000 needed to put their device into production. All the engineering and development has already been fleshed out, os all that’s left is to raise some cash to cover manufacturing costs. If successful, the team expects Backtracker to retail for around $200 when it hits stores.

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