Are you re-inventing the wheel? Maybe you should.

his past May, Mary Meeker, of the famed venture capitalist firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has released her highly anticipated Internet Trends Report.  Meeker has been consistently calling out great examples of what she coins as “the re-imagination of everything.”  Everywhere you look, both start-ups and incumbents are setting out to change they ways we have been doing things for years.copenhagen-wheel-superpedestrian-biker

With mega trends such as mass connectivity and the Internet of Things, enterprises and entrepreneurs have endless opportunities to truly re-imagine and rethink the future.  From the way we communicate with each other to how we hail a cab, everything is up for disruption.  Even the wheel!

We know the cliché phrase “to reinvent the wheel” as a reference to duplicating a method that has already previously been created or optimized by others. But what if you completely re-imagined the wheel and its very function?

Assaf Biderman, an associate director of the SENSEable City Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his team did just that.    Biderman’s company, Superpedestrian, a Boston-based start-up, recently announced that it has received $2.1 million in financing to build a wheel that transforms standard bicycles into hybrid e-bikes.

Their product is called the Copenhagen wheel and consists of a rear wheel with a bright red hub that simply transforms existing bicycles into hybrid electric-bikes with regeneration and real-time sensing capabilities.   The wheel can be fitted to almost any bike, and has a power assist feature that doesn’t require any activation on the part of the rider. The wheel is automatically controlled by sensors in the pedals and will assist the rider in negotiating uphill terrain or longer periods of pedaling with no incremental effort.

The hub of the Copenhagen wheel contains a motor, batteries and an internal gear system to help cyclists realize a consistent cycling experience regardless of the terrain and contains a variety of sensors that provide real-time data to cycling-related mobile applications.  Cyclists can use this data to plan better bike routes, share their commute with friends and track their performance.

The wheel also opens up even more ways to re-imagine the cycling experience through the Superpedestrian SDK, which enables developers to work on their own wheel-related creations.   For example, securing your bike can now be done through locking and unlocking the bike’s pedals though a mobile app.

This is truly an era where everything and anything can be re-imagined.   The next time you think to yourself “there is no need to reinvent the wheel”, perhaps there is indeed a good reason.

If you’re not out there re-imagining how your business, products and entire industry will look like in the future, someone else is bound to do it for you.


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