Good Idea + Hacker Heaven = Ingenuity

Our innovation firm, called Future, uses a discipline called “rapid ingenuity” to help organizations and companies solve big challenges. The definition of ingenuity we use is “a clever, original and practical solution to a big challenge using existing resources.” The key words that distinguish this from mere innovation are “existing resources.” In a rapidly changing world with increasing humans and diminishing resources, this distinction becomes an imperative.

So, I was really interested to recently hear Seena Zandipour tell the story about the development of Helios bicycle handlebars. Helios Bars are the world’s first integrated headlight & blinker system for bicycles. Features include smartphone connectivity (via Bluetooth® Smart), visual speedometer, GPS tracking, and turn-by-turn navigation. They also have a built-in headlight. Check out:

The back story.

Seena, with his buddies Tony Belmontes and Kenneth Gibbs, had an idea while in college to put an integrated headlight in a handlebar. If bicycles are to replace automobiles for everyday transportation, a headlight is a necessary accessory for nighttime riding. Right? But add-on headlights are easily stolen. So, duh, just build it into the handlebar itself. Seemed simple. Why hadn’t anybody done this before?

Fast forward the team to a factory in Shenzhen, China and it turned out to be too simple in fact. The team and factory engineers figured out the handlebar/headlight almost immediately and had some time to kill before returning to the United States. Coincidentally, they happened to be 2 blocks from SEG, the largest electronics mall in the world. Otherwise know as
hacker heaven.

With the help of SEG, it turned out that there were tons of existing resources available to add multiple additional features into the bars. What started out as a good idea morphed quickly into an ingenious product.

Helios is currently taking orders for several different handlebar styles. Buy a pair for your bike and help humans reclaim the urban environment and transform US cities into human-powered meccas.

Disclosure: This post was written as part of Progressive’s Apron Project, helping tell the story of people and their initiatives making progress towards a greater good. I have been compensated as a contributor to this project, but the thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.


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