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

In this rapidly evolving world of tech, itseems there isn’t a single innovation that couldn’t be improved by prefixingthe 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 thattechnology boffins have turned their attention to smartening-up one of theworld's most analog technologies. Ladies and gentleman, we present the smartbicycle.

That’s right folks, the good people atAmazon have announced the launch of the Cybic Legend, a range of bikes, including a traditional hybrid push bikeand an eBike model, combining pedal power with theirAlexa voice-powered smart assistant.

Speakingto journalists about the launch of the bikeat 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 OnThe Go’, where Alexa is available anywhere where the bike is. The combinationof Alexa and Cybic enables riders to enjoy a great range of innovative,integrated bike features without their hands ever having to leave the safety ofthe handlebars."

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

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

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

Do WeActually Need a Smart Bike?

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

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

Cyclists carry theirsmartphones with them for many reasons, first and foremost, to call home in theevent of a mechanical problem or accident. They also use popular apps likeStrava and MapMyRide to track their speeds and distances and get competitivewith their fellow riders. Route planning apps like BikeGPX combined with onlinemapping 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 neverhappened unless it’s posted on Facebook) who can’t resist re-living a ride onan app like Relive.

However, as anyone who relieson their smartphone while riding a bike will tell you, it’s not a greatsolution.

Your phone is either stashedaway in pocket or pannier, making it difficult to access without stopping orstrapped to your handlebars in a waterproof case, making it difficult to engagewith (especially when wearing gloves) or actually see depending on the angle ofthe sun. Phones left on bikes during café stops also become magnets foropportunistic thieves.

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

Room for Competition

The Cybric Legend will appealto some riders. Amazon’s brand recognition and the familiarity many people havewith Alexa will almost certainly appeal to the occasional rider who seeks theadded confidence a virtual ride assistant might offer. This will be especiallytrue 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 gotto be aero), and the right apps (Alexa currently offers approximately 57,000skills compared to a staggering 2.1 million apps in the Google Play store), thesmart bike could become a much sought-after product.

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

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

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