A group of engineers and designers from Palo Alto, California are in the final stages of developing a wheel-mounted LED lighting system that not only passively marks out the position of the bicycle for other road users but also throws a forward beam to actively light the road ahead.
So called 'Tron' lighting systems like the Cyglo tyre-mounted LEDs we posted about back in September 2010 are inspired by the 1980s Hollywood sci-fi film where the heroes appeared to ride around on neon motorcycles. Up to this point, systems like the Cyglo "Tyres Built To Be Seen" are designed to provide a large area of illumination so that car users in particular can easily pick out a moving bicycle particularly amongst other brightly lit traffic.
The new Revolight system currently in development for a March 2012 launch according to UK trade magazine BikeBiz takes the idea a step further by mounting an array of LED lights on lightweight alloy rings attached to both sides of the wheel rims. A clever system of sensors and a microprocessor constantly assesses speed and direction so that the lights, in the case of the front wheel, only fire when they're in the forward facing position.
According to the Kickstarter website where the Revolight team raised over US$200,000 in funding from 1,442 investors, the project is now in its fourth and final version before tooling is made to enter production. One of the final steps is to design the "lightweight and slim, USB rechargeable polymer lithium-ion battery" so that it's almost invisible "on the hub."
Needless to say, a March launch in the USA will not mean Revolights will be available the same month in the UK but we'll certainly be keeping a close eye on this.