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MYBELL keeps cyclists safe by blasting their MP3s of choice (hands-on)

Sarah Silbert
11.08.13
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Biking in heavily trafficked areas can be dangerous -- and few know this better than NYC cyclists. Peter Pottier is one of many in the Big Apple to survive a near miss while on two wheels, and that experience led him to develop a digital noise-maker to help keep bikers safe. The handlebar-mountable MYBELL, created by Pottier and his two colleagues, pumps out sound at up to 96dB -- the average mechanical bell tops out at about 70dB -- and features LEDs to improve nighttime visibility.

Safety is clearly the focus here, but Pottier says he wants to improve the relationship between bikers and drivers as well. "I looked at what was currently on the market, such as air horns, but I didn't want to ostracize bikers." (Who wants to be accosted with that honking sound, after all?) To that end, the MYBELL is customizable; you can upload any MP3 file to the device via micro-USB, and you can choose different LED patterns in night mode. On top of the novelty value, hearing screaming techno instead of a standard bell ring will theoretically be safer, thanks to the wider pitch and range which make it easier to detect. And, if you're lucky, your taste in music might even earn the respect of that otherwise-hostile SUV.

Gallery: Insert Coin: MYBELL hands-on | 8 Photos

Pottier and company have been showing off prototypes for the last several months, and the current 3D-printed model appears to be fully functional. A button on the side of the device activates both sound and the LEDS with a short press and a long press, respectively. The MYBELL is made to fit a variety of handlebar sizes, including those of cycle-sharing programs such as Citi Bike. The team has yet to launch a crowd-funding project, but Pottier says that could be coming as soon as next week, and MYBELL will be on hand at CES in January. Check out a brief video demo below.

Billy Steele contributing to this report.

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