You know those traffic sensors they put underneath the asphalt on busy intersections? The ones that are hooked up to the lights, help manage traffic, and can give you a green right away if there’s nobody else at the crossing? They’re awesome, and much better than timed lights in most situations, but they also have one big drawback: the fact that they can’t detect you when you’re on a bike.
Contrary to what you may have thought, the vast majority of traffic sensors don’t detect vehicles by sensing pressure or weight. Instead, the cheapest and most common variety actually create a big electromagnetic field, and can detect when big metal objects (like your car) enter that field. The only problem, however, is that they’re not so great at picking up on smaller metal objects, so if you happen to be on a bicycle at one of these intersections, you can sometimes get stuck at a red light that never changes.
VeloLoop aims to solve this problem. Using an embedded accelerometer, a 7×7-inch square antenna, and a bit of clever programming, the device is able to tell when you stop at an intersection — at which point it will use the antenna to scan for any traffic sensors under the pavement. If it detects there’s one beneath you, it’ll send out a signal at the exact frequency that the sensor happens to be looking for, effectively tricking it into thinking you’re a car. Pretty brilliant, right?
The device is currently just a prototype, but creator Nat Collins has recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to finalize VeloLoop’s design and take it to production. If you back the project now, you can pre-order one for around 100 bucks, depending on your backer level. Assuming all goes as planned, Collins hopes to ship the first units to backers as early as December. Find out more here.