Blazing a trail
Published 28 November 2012
A revolutionary bike light invented by a University of Brighton graduate has been hailed a major breakthrough in tackling one of the biggest causes of cycling deaths.
Blaze projects a laser image of a bicycle from handlebars onto the road ahead, alerting motorists to the cyclist's presence. It warns drivers wanting to turn left or right but can't see cyclists riding alongside them – otherwise known as the notorious 'blind spot'.
More than 3,000 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads last year and even Olympic champions including Britain's Bradley Wiggins joined this year's casualty list. Studies show that almost 80 per cent of casualties are hit when their cycle is going straight ahead and a vehicle manoeuvres into them.
Emily Brooke came up with her safety device while studying product design at the university and this week, after two years of product development, she saw her invention launched to the public.
Emily said: "The journey has been incredible and it is so exciting to see the concept as an actual working product – and that it will go some way to helping cyclists be more visible on our roads."
Emily Brooke with the Blaze bike light projection
Emily, who graduated last year, won a place on an entrepreneurial scholarship at Babson College, Massachusetts, after being nominated by Beepurple, the university's enterprise network. She was also selected as an inaugural member of Entrepreneur First, an accelerator programme encouraging graduates to start a business. She worked with Brighton & Hove City Council, Brighton & Hove Bus Company, road safety experts and driving psychologists to further develop Blaze.
Her course leader Richard Morris, principal lecturer in the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, said: "Product design students are very good at generating creative ideas aimed at solving difficult problems as part of their final year. It is a real pleasure to see the university working at its best to help them do this, and providing support across a range of subject areas such as engineering, design and business to turn these ideas into fully developed products.
"It is even more satisfying then to see these ideas materialise into the kind of innovative commercial products that help to stimulate the economy. We often see this happening with the companies we work with but are delighted to see students running with their ideas to develop their own businesses.
"It takes great drive to do this so Emily is an inspiration for all budding student entrepreneurs. Blaze is a great product too, with the potential to save many lives, so we will continue to give Emily our best wishes and to support her endeavours."
Emily said: "I am so grateful for my time there and I really loved the course. And Beepurple have been absolutely fantastic."
Blaze is now a top-of-the-range bike light with the added function of projecting the cycle image in constant or flashing modes. Emily is raising capital for production the first batch of BLAZE Bike Lights on crowdfunding website www.kickstarter.com.
For more information go to: www.blazecomponents.com.
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Contact: Marketing and Communications, University of Brighton, 01273 643022