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Garmin acquires the company behind the Backtracker, a radar-powered early warning device

Garmin have this week announced the acquisition of South African company iKubu, which developed the Backtracker radar system we reported on last summer when it was seeking crowd funding.

To recap, the Backtracker is designed to provide early warning of vehicles approaching from behind. It does this by using radar technology to alert the cyclist to the speed and distance of the approaching vehicle via a handlebar-mounted device, while simultaneously lighting up to alert the vehicle to your presence.. When it was seeking funding, Backtracker’s inventors claimed the ability to detect vehicles from as far away as 140m.

The idea for Backtracker came about after meeting a cyclist fearful of vehicles approaching from behind: “The idea for Backtracker was born through a chance meeting with an elderly cyclist, who had resorted to riding in the face of oncoming traffic, for fear of motorists behind him. It inspired us to create a safety product that could bring confidence back into every ride,” said the inventors.

“iKubu has found a way to implement short-range radar into a low-power system that addresses a common concern among cyclists – identifying potential hazards that are approaching them from behind,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin’s president and CEO. “We are delighted to add this technology to the Garmin portfolio.”

How Garmin might incorporate this technology into its existing product remains to be seen. It the Backtracker the sort of modular add on product that could sync to one of Garmin’s Edge computers to provide any early warning system?

“Garmin is a technological leader among cyclists, and we are looking forward to integrating our technology and expertise into their outstanding products,” said Franz Struwig, managing director of iKubu. “Garmin gives us the resources to develop, bring to market, and showcase our products that we otherwise would not have.”

iKuba was in the final stages of developing the Backtracker and now with Garmin’s backing, and deep pockets and large team of engineers, the Backtracker should soon become a reality. Which is a good thing because as interesting as the Backtracker project was, they didn’t attract enough backers and missed, by some way, their ambitious funding goal. An interesting development and we'll be keen to see just how Garmin implement it alongside their existing products.

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.