Student's innovative bike light which flags up potholes

Jake Thompson has created an innovative new bike light which allows cyclists to flag up dangerous potholes and junctions
Jake Thompson has created an innovative new bike light which allows cyclists to flag up dangerous potholes and junctions

A new bike light which flags up 'danger hotspots' on the roads to local authorities has been designed by a University of Sussex student.

Created by product design student Jake Thompson, the bike light includes three buttons which cyclists can use to flag up problems they encounter on their ride including potholes, close pass points and dangerous junctions.

The reports are then loaded onto a map telling local councils where they have the biggest issues and where they should be focusing investment.

The 24-year-old final year student is now hoping for investors to help bring Flare, the first app-integrated smart bicycle light, to market by further developing the app, website and electronics.

He said: “If you compare the UK to somewhere like Copenhagen, then we are way behind when it comes to cycling infrastructure and participation. The Danes have a website which highlights the most frequented and the most frustrating areas for cyclists which helped inspire the Flare.

"The benefit of my design is that cyclists can report where they feel the cycling infrastructure is inadequate in real time at the moment they experience it and it allows them to pinpoint the exact black spot.”

Flare, which can be attached to the handlebars of any bicycle, has three buttons to raise specific complaints. Cyclists press one button to highlight issues with the road surface such as a pothole or obstruction like glass in the road; button two to highlight a stretch of road perceived to be dangerous particularly if cyclists felt passing cars were too close to them; and button three to report dangerous or confusing junctions.

Once a cyclist has finished their ride, they confirm their Flares using their smartphone app where they can add further comments and images.

The light works by linking via Bluetooth to an app on a mobile phone with every button press plotting a GPS location on the Flare map.

Jake said: “Every cyclist has sections on their ride which they would rather avoid or wished could be designed better. Now with Flare, they have the opportunity to potentially help change their route for the better or at the very least warn their fellow cyclists about the dangers up ahead.”

Jake's flare for design came early in life, and he fondly remembers a Year Four school project to make a cocktail umbrella using tissue paper and matchsticks in which he was the only one of his class to complete.

However he didn’t initially come to the University of Sussex to pursue a career in product design and spent the first 18 months as a psychology student before changing courses.

He said: “I remember sitting in a chair in Jubilee café and thinking I had made a mistake and really did not know at all what to do.

“I went to the school offices and they were really, really happy to help. They offered fantastic support and talked me through my options.”

Diane Simpson-Little, Head of BSc Product Design at the University of Sussex, said: “We are really excited about this product, not only is it an excellent breakthrough in solving a very serious problem about cycle safety but it also encompasses excellent design thinking and demonstrates our course ethos.”

Flare was presented by Jake at the Product Design Degree Show being held at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of Sussex this week.

For more information on Flare, visit: www.flarecycling.com