4 Ways Mobile Technology is Improving Your Motorcycle Ride

Motorcyclist using cellphone

(Photo Credit: World Bank Photo Collection)

Whether you’re a casual motorcycle rider or a hardcore biker, your smartphone can make your riding experience even better.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 93,000 people were injured in a motorcycle-related accident in 2012, a 15% increase from 2011.  Texting while driving demonstrates a lack of responsibility, but using a smartphone to enhance the safety of your motorcycle? Smart move.

High-Tech Helmets

Motorcycle helmets are quickly becoming more high-tech.  Recently, Reevu, Skully and Nuviz revealed modern helmets that have GPS, cell phone, rear-view camera and music player capabilities.  The Skully Operating System integrated in the Skully AR-1 connects to an iPhone or Android smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing drivers to send texts and take calls through voice commands—no need to take your eyes off the road. Skully announced that the AR-1 will be released sometime in 2014.  However, if you just can’t wait for the release of the AR-1, BikeBandit carries Bluetooth communications systems and other helmets with advanced technology, including advanced ventilation systems and carbon fiber construction.


Current technology enables smartphones to help keep us safe from the moment we start our engines to the moment we’re back home.  It’s now possible to turn a smartphone into an automatic garage door opener.  The company Flash2Pass created the Tap2Pass receiver.  This receiver communicates with a smartphone through the Tap2Pass app.  The system can be installed on up to 7 phones, essentially giving every member of your family with a smartphone his or her own garage door remote.  The four digit PIN offers an extra layer of security in case the smartphone is lost or stolen.  Tap2Pass works with both iPhone and Android smartphones.

Vehicle-to-Pedestrian and Vehicle-to-Motorcycle Safety Technologies

Although still in the testing phase, vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-motorcycle technologies will soon become a possibility, thanks to Honda.  With dedicated short-range communications technology, a smartphone can detect nearby pedestrians and motorcycles and alert both parties of a possible collision using auditory and visual warnings.  In other words, the driver’s smartphone communicates with the pedestrian’s smartphone to predict the chance of an accident.  An app specifically designed for V2P technology will be able to determine a pedestrian’s position, direction and speed.  And get this: the app will even tell drivers if a pedestrian is texting, listening to music or on a phone call.

Spot Connect

This handy little device turns your smartphone into a satellite communicator, something that comes in handy when you’ve lost all cell phone connection and are stranded in the middle of nowhere.  Spot Connect assists you in reaching friends, family, service providers, and, of course, emergency personnel. Notable functions include SOS mode, which discloses your GPS location to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center, and a Help Mode that sends custom or predefined messages to your chosen contact group.  Spot Connect isn’t just for emergency situations, however.  It also enables you to share your motorcycle adventures with family and friends on Google Maps.  They’ll be able to see your ride progress and know exactly where you’re located.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Noteworthy Engineering-Related Kickstarter Campaigns

Engineers always seem to have an idea for a project or two (or 10) rolling around in their heads, and a young platform is providing them with a chance to bring these ideas to life. is a crowdfunding site where users can donate to aspiring startups.  Donors only pay if the project reaches a set financial goal, and campaigns offer incentives to boost donations.  From equipment that turns street scaffolding into furniture to toys that inspire girls to pursue engineering, innovative projects are gaining support from a pool of interested donors, and civil and technical engineers are flocking to this popular platform.


New York is a mecca for civil engineering. Construction and renovation are frequent, so city residents are used to scaffolding. Softwalks, a project that began at Parsons the New School for Design, aims to transform these unsightly frames into community relaxation spots.  The idea is to add seating, plant holders and counters to these structures.  Pedestrians can use these sidewalk shelters to take a phone call, read the paper or drink coffee. Softwalks raised more than $13,000 on Kickstarter, and it expects to begin renovating sidewalks in the near future.  If residents enjoy this beautification project, it could lead to increased interest in sidewalk scaffolding.


Engineering student Debbie Sterling loved what she studied, but she noticed her field was dominated by men.  In an effort to get little girls interested in Engineering, Sterling developed GoldieBlox, a series of books and construction toys geared toward girls.  It’s an answer to Legos, Kinex and Lincoln Logs, toys that build spacial skills but are generally geared toward boys.

Sterling’s idea took off.  She hoped to raise $150,000 on Kickstarter but ended up raising more than $280,000.  Today, GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine are available at Toys R Us, and another design is on the way.  A new generation of female engineers will unwrap this unprecedented toy for Christmas.

Formlabs 3-D Printer

Few technologies incite excitement about the future of technology more than 3-D printing.  Kickstarter is a breeding ground for this technology, and Formlabs developed one of the first consumer-focused 3-D printers.  The Form 1 3-D printer is one of the greatest success stories in Kickstarter history. Formlabs hoped to raise $100,000 during its 30-day campaign.  When the last day was up, it had raised just short of $3 million to develop this innovative device.  The Form 1 is available for pre-order and will ship in February 2014.


Who couldn’t use a little more focus?  Melon is a Kickstarter-funded EEG device that measures brain activity.  This headband connects to an app to deliver real-time measurements of your focus.  Melon also blew its Kickstarter goal out of the water, raising nearly $300,000.  There’s no word yet on when Melon will hit the market, but this jewel of technical engineering will change the way we stay focused.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison