The market for smart devices such as smartphones and smart watches is big; players are racing to get a foothold in it.
Beijing-based tech behemoth Baidu unveiled its latest smart product last week, a smart bicycle named Dubike.
Could the smart bike make a splash across the tech world?
Cycling has become a trendy hobby in mainland China. People love to cycle to stay healthy and be green at the same time.
Bicycles are ubiquitous in China. There are reportedly more than 500 million bikes in the country.
That’s why while other tech firms and device manufacturers are busy creating their own smartphones or wearable devices, Baidu decided to design a bicycle with smart features.
Earlier this year, rumors were swirling that Baidu was going to develop a driverless bicycle. But the Dubike turned out to be nothing like that.
So how smart is the Dubike?
The company claims the bicycle can help you make friends, exercise effectively and deter thieves as well.
The Dubike features a GPS navigation system that guides the biker with indicator lights on the handlebars showing the direction toward the destination.
Sensors installed inside the handlebars record the rider’s heart rate and other body data.
The built-in generator transforms kinetic energy into electrical energy, so the biker does not have to worry that the GPS and headlight will stop working suddenly because the battery has run down.
If you connect your smartphone with the bicycle through the Dubike app, the bicycle will sync its data, such as your heart rate and cycling route, with your phone.
The Dubike app can suggest a bike route to you, which you can share using the phone with your friends, so they can join you if they want.
As with every new product, there are also some aspects of the Dubike that can be improved.
For example, the handlebars can only sense your body data when you grasp them with your bare hands. The sensors can’t function if you have your gloves on, but gloves are must-have items for bikers, especially in winter.
Another major shortcoming is that data such as your heart rate and the number of calories burnt cannot be displayed on the built-in screen. You can only see the data on your smartphone, which can be rather inconvenient while biking.
One of the selling points of the Dubike is its anti-theft function. The bike reports its position via the GPS system to its owner’s smartphone when needed.
While this won’t prevent the bike from being stolen in the first place, at least you will know where the thief takes it.
Baidu will officially launch the Dubike by the end of this year, media reports say.
No word on the pricing yet, but it is believed the bike will cost at least 10,000 yuan (US$1,630).
Will it catch on?
So far, the reaction of most bikers has been that the Dubike appears to be just a luxury bike with very limited smart functions.
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