Here’s what you get when a smartphone manufacturer asks a master bike builder and a young apprentice to reimagine a better bicycle: A design that uses apps to cleverly make streets safer for cyclists.
The Samsung Smart Bike comes with a built-in phone holder on the handlebars; as you ride, you can look at a map or use the phone to stream footage from a camera at the back of the bike, so you can see if a car's headed your way. As it gets dark, the phone automatically activates four laser beams—two in front, and two in back—to project a red "bike lane" on the street around you.
Over time, the navigation app tracks your favorite routes, and gives the option to push a button to automatically contact your local government in order to suggest that the streets get bike lanes.
The concept was designed by frame builder Giovanni Pelizzoli and student Alice Biotti as part of the Samsung Maestros Academy, an Italy-based program that's trying to bring new life into older crafts via technology. Samsung wanted to find new ways younger people might use their devices beyond the usual social networking, taking photos, and listening to music.
"In Italy we have a very serious economic situation: young people cannot find work, and artisans making 'Made in Italy' products, famous all over the world, cannot find that apprentices learn their craft," says Paolo Boccardi, digital creative director for Leo Burnett Milan, the agency that dreamed up the new academy.
The academy offered digital lessons in several traditional crafts—pasta-making, tailoring, making a leather bag, wig-making, and frame building. Certain students, like Biotti, had the chance to later work with the "masters" in person.
Samsung plans to continue the academy, and is also going to make samples of the bike. "We're working to further improve the app and the technology inside the Smart Bike," Boccardi says. "Samsung plans to produce a few dozen pieces for a test . . . figuring out how to make the system more secure. It's a bike that can change the way you think about safety on the streets."