R.O.M.E. Prize: Meet the Finalists – UltraBike

  December 2, 2016  >   Projects · Protagonists

The ultrasound kit designed to allow blind or visually impaired riders to cycle independently!

 

In age of innovation, we are proud to present the Ultrabike, a kit which provides those who are blind or visually impaired the means to cycle independently using just the tactile vibrations to navigate safely around cycle tracks. 

Let’s talk about this incredible project, one of the ten finalists of the R.O.M.E. Prize at the IV Edition of Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0 with Julie Davies one of the founders of Sound Foresight Technology Ltd, the Harrogate – based Company which has developed the Ultrabike.

 

 


 

Q. Hi Julie, we are so happy to meet you again! Hello! Tell us something about you and the incredibile Ultrabike kit

A. Hello! Thank a lot for this intervie. My name is Julie Davies and I am one of the founders of a company called Sound Foresight Technology Ltd.  We manufacture and supply to a worldwide market a product called the UltraCane which is an electronic mobility aid for use by blind and visually impaired people.

Our project that we exhibited at Maker Faire Rome The European Edition 4.0, in 2016, was an UltraBike that uses the same advanced technology that is incorporated within the UltraCane. The UltraBike is a kit which allows blind and visually impaired people to cycle completely independently on a standard bicycle using just the tactile vibrations to navigate safely around cycle tracks.

Q. What are the materials, technologies and machines used to project and realize it?

A. We used our advanced sensor technology which we incorporated into the UltraBike kit to be able to detect the boundary of the cycle track and also increased the feedback tactile response to the user inside the tactor buttons on the UltraBike kit. We do this by changing some aspects of the software on the circuit board, because of course, the reaction time has to be quicker on a bicycle than it does when walking with an UltraCane.  The kit is enclosed inside a stainless steel box that incorporates standard RAM part connectors to enable it to be connected to the handlebars of the bicycle.  The tactor buttons are incorporated inside a stainless steel tactor pod that can be moved around under the handlebar so that the cyclist can place their thumb on it comfortably in order to feel the vibrations. 

 

UltraBike at Maker Faire Rome - The European Edition 4.0
UltraBike at Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0

 

Q. You shared with us the IV Edition of Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0. What did it mean for you?

A. It meant that we could show interested visitors and other entrepreneurs and enthusiasts, that nothing is impossible. No one would ever have thought to have blind and visually impaired people cycling on a bicycle on their own. Normally they cycle on a tandem with a sighted pilot.  But if there is a will to make something for the benefit of others, then there is always a way to make it and develop it and intended users are always willing to help out and test it with you to ensure it is something that will work and be of benefit.

Q. Could you easily interact with the public, visitors and other makers?

A. Not always because language was a barrier. We did not speak very good Italian!

Q. Great! Thanks to Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0 and the R.O.M.E Prize you’ve gained an international visibility. What are your expectations now?

A. We will continue to show the UltraBike at other events around the world.

Q. What kind of advice would you give to those who really want to turn their ideas into a concrete project?

A. Well, If you believe it in, others will too, but you have to be prepared to work hard, accept when things go wrong, never give up and learn from mistakes. Once you are on the right path to achieving your product, stick with it and ensure that your end users are included within the development and trial stages, because without them, your product could just be another gimmick rather than something which is of benefit!

Q. Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?

A. We will continue to sell the UltraCane around the world for the benefit of blind and visually impaired people but the UltraBike will just be used at exhibits, to show people what can be achieved.

Thank you so much Julie for for your interview and for sharing with us the IV Edition of Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition 4.0. And congratulations for your project!

 

UltraBike exhibit at London Science Museum
UltraBike exhibit at London Science Museum