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HERE employees debut toolkit to build bike navigation devices

Employees from HERE will present a bike navigation device at Maker Faire Rome, Europe’s largest maker event for independent developers, designers and DIYers to show off their latest and greatest inventions, from 16th-18th October. The device mounts on your bike’s handlebar and displays turn-by-turn directions using pedestrian guidance from the HERE app for Android.

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In the spirit of the Maker community, HERE will publicly release and open source all the ingredients for creating your own bike navigation device. This comes in several DIY parts:

  • The 3D files for printing the circuit board and the case that contains it.
  • The bill of materials for ordering the electronic components that sit inside.
  • The firmware files to make the whole thing work.
  • And a new Android Bluetooth interface to enable communications between the device and the HERE for Android app on your phone.

You can get all the files you need to make your own bike navigation device at this link. The HERE for Android app will also be updated to ensure compatibility with your finished device, so be sure to download the app from Google Play so it’s ready.

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The bigger picture

So why is this happening, and what does it mean for HERE? We turned to Hannes Kruppa, a senior engineering manager who helps to guide Internet of Things (IoT) projects at HERE for clarification.

“The idea for this project came from employees that volunteered their time to create something that combined their love of cycling, maps and making things,” says Hannes. “The result is a device that’s not just useful in their everyday routines, but that also showcases the capabilities of the HERE Platform.”

The company supports and encourages such volunteer projects via an open IoT forum where anyone can suggest new projects, contribute their skills to an existing project or get their hands dirty, so to speak, working on prototypes in the maker lab at the HERE offices in Berlin.

Endorsed by the company’s CTO office, all of these activities receive guidance and oversight from a small group of R&D engineers, like Hannes, focused on the broader IoT strategy at HERE.

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IoT is an important technology revolution and maps and location have a crucial part to play. Maps bring local context and help analyse, visualise and optimise data collected by sensors in smart cities, within venues or in asset tracking and fleet management solutions.

“We’re very interested because it helps to make HERE future-proof. People are putting computation everywhere: computers and sensors are continually getting smaller and cheaper. And so we at HERE need to support smaller, less powerful devices to be a part of this,” explains Hannes.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that HERE is getting into the gadgets business, says Hannes:

“We’re not going to sell this bike navigation device, but, what we are doing, is giving all the information required to create one to anyone who wants to do so.”

Projects like this one also help HERE build competencies across the company in prototyping and allow knowledge sharing whether it’s from our IoT group or volunteers working on components together in the lab from our automotive or consumer business.

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Point of proof

“That said, discussions around the Internet of Things are often very broad. So with the bike navigation device we have created a very specific, new experience that is also a showcase for HERE technology and services, and how they can be useful to makers and developers in general.”

Useful now, but also the start of something bigger, Hannes concludes:

“And it’s just a starting point. By open-sourcing the project, we hope that people will pick up the technologies we’ve put together for this iteration of the device and modify them to make things that we never even dreamed of.”

We’d love to see a bike navigation device plus HERE Mobile SDK enabled crowdsourcing app that collects popular bike routes around the world. What’s your idea?

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