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Laserlight Kickstarter project scores major deal with London’s cycle-hire scheme

Santander Cycles set ablaze with Star Wars: The Force Awakens inspired film
From hopeful Kickstarter project to thousands of bikes in London’s cycle-hire scheme, it’s been quite a journey for Blaze, the startup that created the safety-focused Laserlight.

This week it learned that following a successful trial of its unique $200 light, all 12,500 bicycles used by the UK capital’s bike-sharing scheme will be fitted with the device in early 2016.

Announced by Santander, which sponsors the scheme, the special light will help to improve cyclists’ safety by making them more visible as they ride along the capital’s roads at night.

The Laserlight gives motorists early warning of a cyclist’s presence by projecting the image of a bike onto the road, about six meters ahead of the rider. It also reduces the chance of a cyclist being missed by a pedestrian who’s about to cross the street, while its super-bright LEDs mean it can also act as a regular front light.

The device will be integrated into the London hire bikes and powered by an internal dynamo system. A sensor will ensure that the Laserlight only comes on when the bike is moving and in darkness.

BLAZE, laserlight, bikelight,
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The innovative product was the brainchild of Blaze CEO Emily Brooke. After switching from a physics course at Oxford University to one in design in Brighton, Brooke worked on the Laserlight for her final-year project.

More than 800 backers pledged £55,000 ($82,000) toward the end of 2012, and now the eight-person startup is fighting to keep up with demand from bike enthusiasts across 60 countries.

Brooke offers an interesting account of the work it took to make the London bike deal a reality, covering everything from the very first phone call from the scheme’s operator, to the three months of intensive research into the light’s effectiveness, to the creation of a glitzy Star Wars-themed marketing campaign featuring three UK sports stars dressed up as Storm Troopers (sort of) – you can see the launch ad above.

Even Star Wars Ep. VII director JJ Abrams had some input, a fact Brooke is clearly yet to get her head around. “I’m sorry, what? JJ Abrams is involved in the launch video to announce Blaze Laserlights in the cycle hire bikes in London? Yep. Bonkers,” the CEO writes.

Brooke is understandably delighted with the deal, noting in her post that the “corporate giants” that made the deal possible “displayed huge amounts of innovation and dynamism to work with such a small startup.”

The post offers some fascinating insight into how an idea for a single piece of original tech can grow into something incredible. Though of course, Brooke and her team are hoping that this is just the beginning.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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