Future Tech: Shift Gears with Your Mind?

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    Prius Project helmet Future Tech: Shift Gears with Your Mind?  At some point in your cycling career, the process of shifting gears becomes completely automatic. You see the hill ahead, feel the tug on the pedals, and you shift. A no brainer, right?

    In the near future, it won’t be a no brainer any longer. Instead, it’ll be an All Brainer.

    Bikemaker Parlee has teamed up with Toyota Prius to develop a futuristic new technology that will enable a cyclist to shift gears merely by thinking the command to shift up or shift down. We’re not kidding–you have to see this thing…

    Now in its prototype stage, you could be seeing this mind-blowing new shifter on the Prius X Parlee in high end bikes shops near you within the next several years—or so the manufacturers say. Currently, the company has demonstrated the ability to shift bike gears by using the rider’s brain waves. How far this system is from retailer shelves is unknown.

    Here’s Parlee’s video on the new bike:

    What is known is that the bike on which the system is installed features a number of aerodynamic designs and carbon fiber construction—a nice looking bike. But it’s the shift changer that is capturing all the attention. Riders must train the bike to read their mind, much like voice recognition software is “trained” to recognize varying patterns of speech or regional accents. The cyclist wears a “thought sensitive” helmet that picks up his brain waves which are then transmitted to the bike’s brain-controlled electronic neurotransmission.

    It’s not Star Trek. It’s a bike you may be riding in the not too distant future.

    For now, the company envisions a process where the cyclist uses an experimental iPhone app to practice on, moving an icon on its screen until the neural software associates that particular thought with the neurotransmission. In other words, when the thought “shift up” moves the icon, the software can make the physical gears shift up, too. How’s that for cycling apparel?

    Think it’s all a scam? Better do your homework. Other technology such as XWave are already showing how your thoughts can control objects on a computer screen—and yes, it does work.

    So how far in the future is this new thought shifter? Manufacturers cannot say. It’s also too early to get any clear picture (no pun intended) as to how much it may cost.  The current system is not ready for sale and still faces some production and development challenges. For example, how can the system be efficiently mass produced and distributed nationally or even internationaly. That remains to be seen.

    One thing’s certain, however. The days of fumbling for gears may soon be a fading memory…as long as you keep your head about you.


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