If you’re riding an electric bike for exercise, it’s easy to cheat. The bike doesn’t know how hard you’re working; you might be struggling up a steep hill or just letting the motor carry you along a flat street because you’re feeling lazy. A new electric wheel changes that: Instead of twisting a throttle or pushing a button to turn on the motor, the system measures your heartbeat and adjusts the assistance so you get a perfect workout.
By synching with a heart rate monitor, the Falco electric wheel–a kit that can be added to any bike–provides extra resistance if your ride is too easy, and then adds power to push you along when you’ve reached your target heart rate.
“Let’s say you want to achieve a target heart rate of 140,” explains Falco founder Rakesh Dhawan. “So essentially what’s going to happen is as you’re riding the bicycle it’s going to slowly increase your heart rate through a gradual process, and as you reach your heart rate it’s going to maintain a certain level of assistance. You’re allowing your heart to control your assistance.”
Dhawan and a team of developers have been working on the technology for the last six years. “We believe there has to be more integration of human biometric data in electric bicycles,” he says. “This makes for a much more integrated and useful product…we can extend the usability of the bicycle, and also bring more people into the bicycling fold.”
Eventually, the same technology could also be used with other biometric data like blood pressure or glucose levels. The company plans to particularly target older cyclists who are out of shape and afraid of overtaxing their hearts on long rides.
“We want to eliminate that fear altogether and say you have tools available–you still can be outdoors as long as you want, without exerting yourself, and you can have a very healthy workout,” Dhawan says. “You can just enjoy riding as you go along.”
The hub has 16 other sensors, so it can also measure things like how well cyclists are pedaling or how much power they’re producing. The data is automatically fed into an app, so users can watch progress over time or compare stats with friends online.
The kit is currently raising funds on Kickstarter. Soon, the company will also offer other products using the same core technology–like a version of this pedal-powered desk that charges gadgets as someone works.
“You’ll be charging your cell phone, laptop, and at the same time you get exercise and you’re in complete control through biometric feedback,” says Dhawan.