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The Future of Cycling Apps: Amazon Launch Voice Enabled Smart Bike

In this rapidly evolving world of tech, it
seems there isn’t a single innovation that couldn’t be improved by prefixing
the word “smart” before its name. We already have the smartphone, the smart TV,
the smart home, and the smart car. So it should come as little surprise that
technology boffins have turned their attention to smartening-up one of the
world’s most analog technologies. Ladies and gentleman, we present the smart
bicycle.

That’s right folks, the good people at
Amazon have announced the launch of the Cybic Legend, a range of bikes, including a traditional hybrid push bike
and an eBike model, combining pedal power with their
Alexa voice-powered smart assistant.

Speaking
to journalists
about the launch of the bike
at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, David Kumar, Principal Product Manager, Alexa Voice Services
(AVS), said: “Adding Alexa functionality expands the notion of ‘Alexa On
The Go’, where Alexa is available anywhere where the bike is. The combination
of Alexa and Cybic enables riders to enjoy a great range of innovative,
integrated bike features without their hands ever having to leave the safety of
the handlebars.”

So basically, while you pedal, Alexa looks
after things like turning your lights on, helping out with directions, playing
music and monitoring speed/distance, etc. It can also handle things like
turning the heating on back home when you are out on a cold ride or even ordering
a takeaway meal to greet you on your return from a healthy ride.

The bike comes equipped with a SIM card and
a free data allowance, essentially turning it into a mobile hotspot. This will
be great for riding in towns and cities – but not so good for those long
country rides and associated mobile dead spots. The “connected” nature of the
bike will also help with location and retrieval in the event of theft.  

OK, this all sounds very exciting, but
there is just one question that many people will have:

Do We
Actually Need a Smart Bike?

At first glance, it would be very easy to
be cynical about the Cybic Legend. You could argue
that it doesn’t really do anything that a smartphone does already, and most
cyclists would carry a smartphone with them while they ride.

However, after speaking to a
colleague (a self-confessed MAMIL – Middle Aged Man in Lycra), perhaps the idea
isn’t as crazy as it seems.

Cyclists carry their
smartphones with them for many reasons, first and foremost, to call home in the
event of a mechanical problem or accident. They also use popular apps like
Strava and MapMyRide to track their speeds and distances and get competitive
with their fellow riders. Route planning apps like BikeGPX combined with online
mapping services like Bikemap.net are also invaluable for long distance rides.
And for those cyclists who love to share on social media (because a ride never
happened unless it’s posted on Facebook) who can’t resist re-living a ride on
an app like Relive.

However, as anyone who relies
on their smartphone while riding a bike will tell you, it’s not a great
solution.

Your phone is either stashed
away in pocket or pannier, making it difficult to access without stopping or
strapped to your handlebars in a waterproof case, making it difficult to engage
with (especially when wearing gloves) or actually see depending on the angle of
the sun. Phones left on bikes during café stops also become magnets for
opportunistic thieves.

So, it would seem there is a
place for built-in smart technology on a bike.

Room for Competition

The Cybric Legend will appeal
to some riders. Amazon’s brand recognition and the familiarity many people have
with Alexa will almost certainly appeal to the occasional rider who seeks the
added confidence a virtual ride assistant might offer. This will be especially
true in the burgeoning eBike category beloved by older riders.

As for more serious riders,
this will probably be seen as a bit of a gimmick. But with the right screen
(enabling it to be seen in all light conditions), the right styling (it’s got
to be aero), and the right apps (Alexa currently offers approximately 57,000
skills compared to a staggering 2.1 million apps in the Google Play store), the
smart bike could become a much sought-after product.

Until then the Cybric Legend
will more likely be referred to by serious cyclists as a bike shaped object and
riders will continue to rely on their smartphones and associated apps.

Do you have an app that needs pushing? Talk to one of our advisors today
about how Digital Turbine can help your app go further and reach the right
people, at the right time and on the right device. 

Marissa Camilli

By Marissa Delisle

Marketing Specialist

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