Sure, Your Bike Can Tweet–But Can It Tweet Good?

The designers of the bike show promise and ingenuity. Their Twitter style leaves something to be desired.

Precious the tweeting bike


The other day we first learned of Precious the Tweeting Bike, which sounds like a Conan O’Brien act, but is not. Precious is biking across the country (with the help of a rider named Janeen McCrae) to raise money for Janeen’s Livestrong Challenge team. Her makers have equipped her with sensors to measure all sorts of things–temperature and humidity, velocity and grade, global position–which data is then parsed, finally triggering a pre-written tweet that meets those conditions. August 4 at 11:50 a.m., we take it, was very hot where Precious was, since it tweeted: “You could fry an egg on my sexy exterior today. You’re welcome to lick it off. Only if you enjoy the taste of Awesomesweat.”

Behind this bike is an hip and enigmatic group of techie inventors called Breakfast, with a hip and enigmatic website. Dubbing itself a “digital experiences company,” Breakfast declares that they “simply think of ourselves as inventors who are trying to take all the amazingness of what can be done online and bring it into some sort of device or experience in the real world.” Some call this approach “the Internet of things.”

After having heard about a number of other twittering inanimate objects for some time now, we were excited to see if these inventors had concocted something more dynamic. Precious’s Twitter feed has had a few zingers (“A true Goldilocks distance day. Not too many. Not too few. Just right at 72.4 miles. I have my baby bear spray at the ready,” Precious shared yesterday). But ultimately reading pre-written tweets sent out automatically according to a matrix of parameters feels…well, as stilted as it sounds.

But to their credit, the folks at Breakfast would probably be the first to admit this. “Inventing groundbreaking technology doesn’t happen first go,” they write on their site, and they’re careful to term their impromptu gadgets as mere “toys.” “Toys are our attempt to let ideas take a rough shape quickly,” they explain. Breakfast seems to be good at rolling out proofs of concept, and they’ve shown enough cleverness, ingenuity, and design sense to make us eagerly await the day they move beyond toys to a real invention.

About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.