The brains behind SafeSense are rethinking what bicycle safety means. Using cutting-edge technology used by the likes of Tesla, they want to revolutionize bicycle safety. SafeSense is a startup based out of Philadelphia.
Hello Jibran, welcome to Startup Fortune, it’s indeed a pleasure to have you with us today. You are building a very unique project here. Could you tell us a little about how it all started? Where did you get such an interesting idea to work on?
Thank you, I appreciate it. This idea was actually born 2 years ago. I was doing a 6 month internship in center city and I occasionally used to bike there. In a span of 6 months, I had 3 very close encounters with cars. There were always cars pulled up into the bike lanes, picking up or dropping off people, and then there were these crazy drivers who were either distracted or late for work. My friend and I joked that only if we had someone sitting behind us who could spot cars, how great would that be? Then the realization struck, why don’t we build something that will do that for us.
Are bicycle accidents really that big of a problem?
Certainly, without any doubt. People think that cities are becoming bicycle friendly by giving cyclists their own lanes, and theoretically that should reduce accidents, but it doesn’t. Just two days ago, a report came out that bicycle accidents had seen their worst year in the past three decades. Every year, for the past decade, car accidents have been decreasing, but bicycle accidents have been increasing. More people are now biking due to environmental or health concerns, so there are more bicycles on the road than ever before. Just as an example, NYC is one of the leading cities for bicycle safety, and they spent billions on a project called Vision Zero, which aims to reduce bicycle accidents, and last year, according to their own Department of Transportation’s data, 26 cyclists died, and there were almost 5000 injuries. That is about 400 bicycle accidents every month.
How does SafeSense work?
SafeSense works like blindspot monitoring for cars, but it’s much smarter than anything available for cyclists right now. So we are developing an AI powered camera which will have a vision capability, meaning that it will be able to see things like a human eye would. It will identify and track vehicles behind a cyclist. It will be mounted on a bicycle seat post, just like a rear reflector is mounted on a seat post. Now alongside that, we have a pair of handlebar grips that we call “active grips” and these grips can light up, they can vibrate, and they can beep at you. When a vehicle is detected, the grips will glow red, this will enhance awareness by letting a cyclist know that there is a vehicle behind them, and if the AI camera determines that a car is coming too close or is on a dangerous trajectory, the grips will flash, vibrate, and beep at the cyclist.
WOW. Where can we buy this?
We are finalizing our prototype but we will be launching a Kickstarter campaign in mid December, if you’re interested.
Can you tell us more about the core team members? Who are your key people?
Our core team is a group of amazing and dynamic individuals working on SafeSense. I happen to have an excellent co-founder and bicycle enthusiast, alongside me, Robbie. Then we have two brilliant people, Toan and Josh, and they are working on developing the AI camera. Then we have Su, she is a master at user interface designing, and she is designing an app. And we have Lorenzo, our creative lead, and he’s helping us with our Kickstarter campaign.
Just curious, do you think consumers would be interested in adding more technology to their bicycle? Assuming these would be expensive. Or how economical is it?
Well, first of all, people spend a lot of money on bicycle accessories. Last year, people in the US spend over $3 billion on bicycle accessories. Now, our product retails for $299, which is a very competitive price point in the bicycle accessory market. Initially, it probably won’t appeal to everybody’s budget, but eventually we want to make it even more affordable. We want to make it as affordable as possible so that more people can stay safer.
How are you funding the project? Have you already got any investors?
Right now, we are funding it ourselves, and we won a competition a few months back which greatly assisted us. In the near future, we are launching a Kickstarter campaign for crowdfunding.
In your opinion, what makes the project an important one in today’s world?
I personally am a believer of technology and I think that this is the best time to introduce SafeSense to the world. At a time like this when more and more people are biking, and accidents are increasing, we cyclists need better safety. If I say the phrase bicycle safety in the year 1980, what would you think? Probably a helmet. And if I say the same thing but changed the year to 2019, your answer would probably be the same. In a span of 4 decades, no new safety technology has been introduced for bicycles. This is why our motto is bicycle safety beyond the helmet.
Your technology, artificially intelligent sensor monitors and tracks vehicles, do you have plans to expand your services to other vehicle segments as well?
Other vehicle segments already have this technology. Car accidents are decreasing, and they are decreasing because of new safety technology like automatic braking, lane assist, and blindspot monitoring. We are just bringing another version of that technology for bicycles.
Is this just one project or do you have more ideas in the pipeline?
The one thing that our entire team shares, is the passion for creating great products that are a cross-section of arts and science. I think that a product should be beautiful enough to be eye catching, but simple enough to get the job done. SafeSense is just the first step. While creating SafeSense we realized the huge innovation gap in the bicycle market and we want to disrupt this mafia of old bicycle manufacturers and accessory manufacturers like Trek and Garmin that make ugly looking overpriced products. We have a couple of other things that we want to start working on as soon as SafeSense is out of the door.
Thank you again for taking time for doing this with us. We wish all the best for your project.
Thank you very much for this opportunity, and I would like to mention that our Kickstarter goes live in mid december so go to our website www.safesense.xyz and sign up to be added to our mailing list.
You can find more details about SafeSense at: