Article by Sarah Wild
If Europe is to meet its ambitious environmental goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, more and more people will need to cycle to get around. With World Bicycle Day on June 3rd celebrating pedal power’s undeniable benefits, we are curious to know what the bike and e-bike of the future might look like.
Since the start of the pandemic, e-bikes have propelled a bicycle sales boom. Already in 2019, more than 3.7-million of the battery-powered e-bikes were sold with EU sales projected to reach 17 million units annually by 2030, according to the European Cyclists’ Federation.
Apart from the widespread adoption of electric power, at over 200 years of age, the ancient pushbike itself is enjoying something of a makeover. Innovations for safer braking, easier pedalling and better grip in changing road and weather conditions soon may be coming to an upgraded bicycle lane near you, thanks in part to €80 billion in sustainable transport infrastructure investments under the European Green Deal.
One unfortunate drawback to this cycling revolution is, as e-bikes sales increase, so too do e-bike-related injuries. ‘E-bikes are light vehicles and have small brakes, so the pressure applied to them is significantly high,’ said Fabio Todeschini, founder and general manager of BluBrake. Based in Italy, BluBrake designs and manufactures anti-lock braking systems (ABS) for e-bikes and e-cargo bikes.
The majority of e-bike accidents occur during braking, with about 40% of those accidents due to the front wheel locking, said Todeschini. When the wheel locks, the cyclist can skid without control, overturn or worse, fly over the front of the handlebars. BluBrake developed a brake-set solution to make e-bikes safer, providing cyclists with safety technology similar to cars and motorcycles.
A sensor on the front wheel measures the bicycle’s speed and transmits that information to the main ABS unit, which is the brains of the system. A handlebar display keeps the cyclist informed of the status while electronics are used to monitor speed and predict potential danger. If a dangerous situation arises, an actuator engages to regulate pressure on the front brake in order to prevent the back wheel from lifting off the ground.
Since the company launched its ABS offering in 2019, a number of leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have adopted it as standard on their bike models, Todeschini said. In 2021, BluBrake launched its second-generation ABS, which, at under 400g, is half the size and weight of the original.
Norwegian firm reTyre produces a modular tyre system with a range of treads, that can be changed easily by zipping them on and off.
‘It started when I was a student at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology,’ said reTyre founder and inventor Paul Magne Amundsen. ‘You can find almost 20 000 bicycles on campus (but) in the winter almost none of them had winter tyres.’ In frosty Norway, these tyres are vital because they improve traction and allow the bikes to grip the road, even in the icy conditions that sometimes prevail.
‘We realised that we needed to make some kind of studded winter surface that mimics a tyre, looks like a tyre, but is easy to take on and off,’ Amundsen said. Ultimately, Amundsen and colleagues ended up designing a modular tyre, consisting of a base tyre with a zipper to which can be fitted with different layers or “skins”, chosen according to weather conditions. ‘When you want to attach a new skin to the tyre, you slip on your surface layer,’ said Amundsen, ‘And that surface sits very snugly on the tyre, so you have the performance that you’d expect from a normal tyre.’
Since reTyre began selling modular tyres in 2020, they are now sold in more than 33 countries, according to Amundsen. The company also serves the electric scooters and wheelchair markets with modular systems, which, according to Amundsen, also is better for the environment.
‘When a surface layer is worn, you’re only discarding the surface layer instead of the whole structure,’ he said. Making it easy to switch tyres also increases the likelihood that people will use their bikes more, as they could otherwise be put off bringing their bicycles into the shop to have other tyres fitted.
The company is rapidly expanding to keep up with demand. Last year, reTyre produced about 40 000 modular tyre systems, and now plans significant increases. ‘We’re looking at 100 000 this year,’ said Amundsen.
Pedal of honour
Some people may find the physical effort of cycling deters them. It’s a reticence that Spanish company Bike Innovations is addressing with the manufacture of extending cranks which significantly reduces the effort required to move the bike. The cranks are the metal rods that links the pedals to the large chain wheel which ultimately powers the rear wheel. Bike Innovation’s Raylap project developed springy cranks which extend in length as a person is cycling.
These increase the circumference of the circle that the cyclist creates when turning the pedals, improving the rate at which force is transferred to the rear wheel by up to 35%, according to Bike Innovations. Demanding much less effort from the rider, the cranks can be fitted to any bicycle. In e-bikes, spare energy can even be fed back into the battery.
‘We are about to manufacture the first 200 products,’ said Juan Gazpio, sales manager at Bike Innovations. Initial feedback is promising, according to Gazpio, and following trials with cycling retail outlets in Madrid and Barcelona they are planning to ramp up manufacturing ahead of Christmas 2022.
The research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.
Optical Gas Imaging – A New and Innovative Imaging Technology
Optical gas imaging (OGI) is a technique that allows for the detection of leaks in sealed containers of pressurized gases. The way OGI works is by using an infrared camera to visualize the heat given off by the escaping gas. Even though OGI technology is primarily used in a professional setting, it can also be used in homes – especially handheld OGI cameras.
This type of imaging can be used to find and fix leaks in a variety of applications, including pipeline monitoring, refinery monitoring, and environmental surveying. In this article, we will elaborate on how OGI cameras work and what are the benefits of owning such equipment, hopefully helping you decide if this technology is right for your needs.
In the vast majority of cases, OGI cameras are used in industrial settings to detect leaks of methane and other gases. Here’s a brief explanation of how they work:
Inside the camera, there is a laser that emits a beam of light. This beam is directed towards the area that needs to be imaged. When the beam hits a gas molecule, it causes the molecule to emit a small amount of light. This light is then detected by a sensitive sensor inside the camera, which is used to create an image.
Unlike traditional cameras, OGI cameras do not require a light source to create an image. This means that they can be used in complete darkness. Moreover, OGI cameras can see through smoky and dusty conditions that would normally obscure a traditional camera’s view.
One of the main benefits of using OGI cameras is that they can detect very small leaks that would otherwise go unnoticed. For example, a traditional camera might not be able to see a methane leak that is only emitting a few molecules of gas per second. However, an OGI camera would be able to detect this leak and allow for it to be fixed before it becomes a larger problem.
Thanks to the benefits they offer, OGI cameras are an essential tool for many industries. However, they can also be very useful as a home improvement tool. For example, if you have a natural gas line in your home, an OGI camera can help you find any leaks that might be present. This is important because natural gas is highly flammable and can be quite dangerous if it leaks into your home.
While some OGI camera models are extremely expensive, they are used by professionals and there is no reason for you to buy one of them. Instead, you can go for a handheld OGI camera, which is much more affordable and will still do the job just fine.
There are many benefits of using OGI cameras, both for individuals and businesses.
Firstly, OGI cameras can save you a lot of money. If you have a business that uses pressurized gases, such as a refinery or a pipeline company, then you know how expensive it can be to repair a gas leak. OGI cameras can help you find these leaks quickly and easily so that you can fix them before they cause too much damage.
OGI cameras can also help you save money on your home improvement projects. As we mentioned before, if you have a natural gas line in your home, an OGI camera can help you find any leaks that might be present – no matter how small they are. This way, you can fix the leaks before they cause any damage to your home.
Another benefit of OGI cameras is that they are very safe. Unlike other leak detection methods, such as using a combustible gas detector, OGI cameras do not emit any harmful radiation. This makes them much safer to use, both for you and for the environment.
Finally, OGI cameras are very easy to use. Even if you’ve never used one before, you’ll be able to quickly learn how to use an OGI camera. This makes them a great choice for businesses and homeowners alike.
In summary, OGI cameras are a great choice for businesses and homeowners who want to save money and be safe. They are very easy to use and can help you find leaks quickly and easily. If you think an OGI camera might be right for you, then be sure to check out the different models that are available. You’re sure to find one that fits your needs perfectly.
Why does your startup need an MVP and what is that?
Any startup starts with an idea, but it’s important to understand that there are a lot of ideas in the world and you have to weed out the unviable ones. If you believe in the necessity of your idea for users — great, but it is logical to check before starting a large-scale work, whether users need it and are they ready to pay for it?
This approach is safer, by checking the demand for your idea, you will save yourself and your company from a wasted effort in developing a product which will bankrupt the company. MVP, on the other hand, is a guarantee that allows you to say with more confidence that your product will be used.
MVP development is the creation of a product which has the minimum required set of features. It allows you to get some initial feedback from your users and decide whether to spend more money on its development. Sometimes it helps to understand that the idea is not interesting to the users and either to refuse development or to reconsider the main idea of the product. You can order the creation of MVP in Purrweb — MVP development company.
MVP can be considered as an alternative or as an addition to the research, which is important to do before you start MVP development. Researching the preferences of your target audience can be very different and is a topic for a separate article.
The purpose of MVP and the research is the same — to get confidence in the necessity of creating a product at the minimum cost, or in the viability of a unique feature if you are developing in an area where there is competition.
It’s important to understand that an MVP doesn’t mean a crude and unfinished prototype of your product. It should be quite the independent and full-fledged product, but it should have the minimal set of the necessary functions, allowing your users to satisfy their need for such a product.
Steps of MVP development:
- Define and articulate the main purpose of the product (or the main advantages over peers; there shouldn’t be many of them) to be realized during MVP development. In fact, the product can have more benefits and features, but in MVP we check only the core of our product.
- Determine how you will measure the effectiveness of the MVP (engagement metrics, numerical metrics, direct user surveys, etc.).
- Develop MVPs for specific capabilities and prepare ways to calculate effectiveness.
- Determine the effectiveness of MVP development, draw conclusions.
These steps may vary slightly for each product, the main thing is to understand the main purpose of the MVP, and in some cases you may need to iterate through several MVPs before you reach your goal and decide what the product should look like.
The conclusions may also vary. I wouldn’t advise you to drop the idea right away; if the MVP results don’t satisfy you, but it may be worth thinking about what to improve and how.
Based on the main purpose of creating an MVP, you can define the benefits:
- Gain confidence in the viability of your idea in a real environment and on real users.
- Saving money and effort by not putting it all into a failed project.
- Identify the most important features of your product that are important to users.
- Get the first real users who will be interested in the product.
With each new iteration, we need to improve the result. That is, the interval from the birth of the idea to its validation, should be reduced. It is clear that everything depends on the complexity of the idea, but the typical tasks and key processes should be minimized in time.
The peculiarity is to put one main value into one prototype. Remember what you need an MVP for? That’s right, to test an idea. One idea/single value. There is no sense in testing several ideas in a prototype at once, so you won’t get reliable data and will only spoil the whole experiment.
You need to test an idea, but how do you do that?
- Create 2-3 single-page (one-page site) where we make your idea of service.
- In the center put the “order” button.
- Determine the test budget for the campaign and the time for measuring the results.
- Set up advertising (context, social networks, or something else) for a pre-selected target audience.
- We start the flow on the webpage.
- See how many people click on the button and draw a conclusion.
If you are satisfied with the results, then take the service and make it nice, beautiful, convenient. If not, then just throw out the idea and move on to the next one. This is just one example of an MVP. To test a new feature on an existing product, you can simply hang a banner or a burning button, measure the clicks, and estimate the general interest of users in the new idea.
In practice, it also happens that while doing hypothesis testing, you might not make a prototype at all. You will find the answer in already existing sources of information.
Below is a list of principles without which your MVP is not an MVP.
- Don’t do it if you can’t do it. Look for ready-made solutions.
- Cut down. Get rid of everything unnecessary in your prototype; leave only the main value for the user.
- No beauty. Don’t delve into design, make a working prototype, and don’t waste resources.
- Know your MVP users. Gather as much information as you can about those who will interact with the MVP.
- MVP is about to see if you can make money from the idea.
- Cut back on MVP development, time, and design. Leave only the main thing that will help test the idea.
- The MVP should work and carry one, core value.
- No backend. To create an MVP, look for options without heavy and long MVP development.
- Get it up and running as early as possible. Even if it fails, we’ll have the advantage of first. If the chip is new, the user will be more loyal.
There’s a checklist for that, too:
- You can be the first users yourself.
- Relatives, friends, acquaintances.
- We write to everyone, visit them, make phone calls.
- Social networks. We ask for feedback from everyone who responds.
- Opinion leaders. Those who are listened to by many people.
- Cold calls.
- The press.
Do not forget about feedback channels; leave your contacts (mail, phones, messengers, and social networks). Information from first users should come to you freely. The man has already spent his time testing your product.
Do not make him look for ways to share his opinion. That’s what we need. Well, about metrics. All the gestures with users, prototypes and so on are used for a purpose. If you have read to this point, you know that this purpose is hypothesis testing. And to test it, you have to actively watch the metrics.
Don’t forget to set up all the necessary counters. Get the data and draw conclusions about where you need to go.
What is MVP development? It is hypothesis testing. It is about speed. It is about the economy of resources. And what is more important, you need to work with it, and you have everything you need.
Space – the greener frontier – is good for business
The European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) was established in 2021 to become the operational arm of the European Union’s space ambitions. That means they manage the commercialisation of applications coming from satellites such as mapping, navigation and science missions. We spoke with Rodrigo da Costa, the executive director about the business of space in Europe and its contribution to the EU Green Deal.
What benefits can people expect from European space commerce in the near future?
Space is the new technological revolution, and it is changing the way we live, work and play. From the navigation system in our cars to the landing of the last flight we took, to the map on our mobile phone – even though we may not know it, the benefits of satellite technology are everywhere.
All smartphones sold in the European single market (since March 2022) are using Galileo satnav signals. This improves an emergency call’s location which will result in faster response times and more lives saved.
In other words, space is a solution – an invisible infrastructure providing very visible services.
How is the business of space set to grow?
Annual sales of satnav receivers are forecast to grow from 1.8 billion to 2.5 billion devices from 2021-2031. The consumer, tourism and health markets will dominate. Smartphones and wearables account for 92% of the receivers. Over 10 billion satnav devices will be installed by 2031, globally.
Apart from the consumer market, the professional markets of agriculture, urban development, cultural heritage and infrastructure will also contribute to the revenue stream.
The Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices and applications, data-driven services and the push for smart cities and mobility will lead to increased demand.
In terms of Earth observation, commercial revenues are set to double from roughly €2.8 billion to over €5.5 billion over the next decade.
What role does knowledge from space play to help protect our planet?
Copernicus Services monitor a number of key climate indicators, such as sea levels, temperature and air currents. This data can then be used to help develop global climate policy decisions.
Through the Copernicus Climate Change Service we provide information about the past, present, and future climate to business and policy makers.
Europe’s space programme provides a wealth of information about climate (see below).
Surveillance of climate
The above image of Norwegian fjords near Tromsø inside the Arctic circle shows the effects of the intense heatwave gripping much of Europe in June 2022. The darker areas of water indicate a massive sediment discharge into the fjords from melting ice.
Copernicus services are used to monitor climate change in environments such as the Arctic regions.
On 30 June 2022, one of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites captured this image, showing the Saharan dust cloud engulfing the skies of North Africa, South Italy and Malta. The storm is expected to persist and reach Spain in the coming days.
There have been several dust storm episodes in 2022 so far. They are bad for human health and also affect solar energy production by depositing sand on the solar panels, limiting their productivity. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) provides forecasts to help plan the measures needed to limit the negative effects of dust storms.
EU space applications
Galileo is the European Union’s independent satnav system. Logistics companies use it to track shipping and aircraft use it when taking off and landing. In-car navigation is aided by the fact that Galileo is more accurate over cities than traditional GPS (US) and GLONASS (Russia) satnavs.
Galileo also boasts of better security from hackers. The resilience ensures quality and dependability. Apart from navigation services, Galileo also supports search and rescue beacons for people in distress.
Designed and built in Europe, Galileo is having a massive impact for European and world commerce. Already, the next generation of Galileo satnav is being planned.
The Copernicus Earth Observation programme is used extensively for climate change science.
The Sentinel and other satellites are capable of monitoring temperature and sea level conditions on earth as well as other climate measurements. This data can then be fed into global climate policy decisions.
‘Because the oceans absorb carbon, their temperatures go up, which has a whole host of knock-on effects,’ da Costa said, ‘Including rising sea levels, changes in fish migration, the dying-off of coral reefs and shifts in the world’s climate patterns.’
The EU Space Programme also plays a role in limiting the impact of climate change on the Arctic environment. For example, the accurate navigation offered by Galileo can optimise shipping routes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.
Follow the link to learn how key climate indicators are monitored by the Copernicus Marine and Climate Change Services.
The Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) provides information for emergency response to catastrophes, natural or man-made. Whether it’s fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes or other disasters, emergency services can make use of the rapid mapping service to obtain highly detailed views of conditions on the ground.
‘Last summer, when wildfires ravaged Greece, public authorities called on the Copernicus EMS to monitor the evolving situation,’ said da Costa. ‘When floods struck Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg (also in 2021), satellites provided rescue teams with the highly accurate positioning and navigation they needed to save lives.’
The research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.
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