Will These Disruptive Devices Change Your Commute?

Danielle Beurteaux

Next stop: The future. Getting around has never been so futuristic, or fun. These transportation disrupters could change how we get from A to B with ease.

Let the Data Drive

According to the World Health Organization, every year there are around 1.24 million deaths due to road accidents. These vehicular innovations aim to, if not eradicate, at least put a serious dent in road mishaps.

Mind Sense

Credit: Jaguar Land Rover
Credit: Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar is experimenting with ways to reduce road accidents by creating a driving environment that can track a driver’s mental and physical state. Its lab rat: a teched-up Jaguar XJ. Influenced by focus-training techniques used by NASA and the U.S. bobsled team, biometric sensors in the steering wheel and seat provide feedback on a driver’s heart rate, breathing, and brain activity to judge if they are concentrating and alert. Jaguar is also experimenting with hands-free systems that would reduce hands-off-the-wheel time by using interior cameras that focus on a driver’s hands and predict which dashboard button they are aiming for. Even the accelerator pedal could send alerts, with a haptic
feedback system that sends vibrations to the driver’s
foot when the driver is speeding.


Credit: Signal Labs

Signal Labs envisions a future in which physical traffic signs are replaced by notifications on your car’s dashboard. Its eponymous dashboard device is designed to alert drivers to traffic conditions, potential hazards, construction, accidents, and more, as they happen. The device runs on the company’s own software, which analyzes data from multiple sources, including existing road infrastructure, police reports, and private data. Signal is being tested by select fleet drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area, but interest from the general public has prompted plans for a consumer model.

Jedi Bike Tricks

In many ways, bicycles haven’t changed much since the safety bicycle appeared in the late 19th century. But traveling on two wheels is more popular than ever: estimates put global sales at over 130 million bikes per year. Now, connected driving isn’t just for cars. With more bikes on the road, connected devices are making cycling safer and turning cycling into an Internet-of-Things–enhanced commuting option.

Connected Cycle

Credit: Connected Cycle

Connected Cycle’s pedal turns almost any bike into a smart bike. Designed with antitheft capabilities in mind, the pedal will alert bike owners if their ride has been moved. The technology inside the pedal means that a stolen bike can be tracked, and you’ll never again forget where you’ve locked it. It’ll even send directions to its new location to your smartphone. The self-charging pedal also works as an activity tracker, sending data on speed, mileage, and cadence to an app-accessible cloud platform, allowing every hill and mile to be collected and analyzed.

Senth IN1

Credit: Insenth
Credit: Insenth

Safety, speed, and social networking. Chinese startup Insenth combines them all in a pair of augmented reality-enabled glasses. Senth IN1 integrates activity tracking, route information, route planning, alerts, photographs, phone calls, and a virtual message wall, all visible right in front of cyclists’ eyes. The glasses can also turn a solo trek into a social moment by sharing the journey with and tracking other Senth IN1 cyclists, controlling the entire experience by using a Bluetooth thumb pad that attaches to the handlebars.


Trash Your Boards

Step on and go. The science fiction transportation concepts of your childhood are becoming a reality with innovations that bring science, fun, and mobility to a potentially carless future.



Credit: Toyota Motor Corp.

In June of 2015, car manufacturer Lexus debuted SLIDE, its version of the hoverboard, making Robert Zemeckis’ 1989 Back to the Future Part II film (which is set in 2015) look prescient. It’s powered by magnets and liquid nitrogen–cooled superconductors that, apart from keeping the board afloat, emit some cool-looking vapor. This model isn’t for sale. It’s experimental, and in order to work, it needs a metal surface to hover above. SLIDE’s value so far is mainly for promotion. It’s part of a marketing campaign for a new (nonhovering) Lexus.


Credit: Cocoa Motors

The WalkCar, from Japan’s Cocoa Motors, with support from Kickstarter, could be the transportation alternative for urbanites that want to channel professional skateboarder Tony Hawk. Or for anyone (think workers in airports or big-box stores) who needs to walk long distances, possibly carrying heavy objects, while navigating around pedestrians. Engineer Kuniako Saito created what looks like an aluminum tray on four wheels, but step aboard for a 6.2 mph ride. Change directions by shifting your weight, hop off to stop, and throw its 6.6 pounds into your backpack when you reach your destination. The lithium-ion battery lasts 3 hours, or about 7.4 miles. The company anticipates WalkCar will ship in 2016.

Danielle Beurteaux

About Danielle Beurteaux

Danielle Beurteaux is a New York–based writer who covers business, technology, and philanthropy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and on Popular Mechanics, CNN, and Institutional Investor's Alpha, among other outlets.