Apple Researching Methods to Turn iPhone Into Feature-Rich Bike Computer

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Patently Apple reports on an Apple patent application published today that describes Apple's vision for using the iPhone, iPod, or other electronic device as an interface for a multi-feature bicycle computer. While current bike computers are typically limited primarily to such data as speed, distance, and cadence with the possibility for integration of other devices such as heart rate monitors, Apple's plans reveal a much broader scope to incorporate such features as GPS routing, communications between multiple riders within a group, weather recording, and gear settings.

The premise is rather like Apple's Nike + iPod system for runners except for cyclists. While the system is for individuals, it's also designed to work with teams of cyclists so that they could communicate with each other on-the-fly about course difficulty or perceived problems. The Bicycle system monitors speed, distance, time, altitude, elevation, incline, decline, heart rate, power, derailleur setting, cadence, wind speed, path completed, expected future path, heart rate, power, and pace. The system could utilize various sensors built-into the iPhone in addition to working with sensors already built-into the bike itself. Apple's patent is extraordinarily detailed and packed with interesting twists that the sporting cyclist will really appreciate.

Communications systems built into the package could allow potential riders to share their riding characteristics others to assist in forming riding groups while also allowing those on a team to view data on other riders. Riders could also communicate with each other via various methods, as well as with outside parties.

Riders can also offer ratings and feedback on potential routes to other riders, with data on their riding characteristics offering a basis for assessing riders' perspective when making ratings and recommendations.

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Mapping capabilities could offer riders a wide variety of perspectives and data, including topographic information and landmarks. Turn-by-turn directions could also be transmitted to assist riders with following a pre-determined route.

As always, Apple's patent applications are not necessarily reflective of products it intends to bring to the market, but they do provide some insight into projects the company is thinking about and how they might relate to future device plans.

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