Breakfast, a New York-based group of techies and inventors, wants to bring internet to the real world. They want a world that is somewhat reminiscent of science fiction. The want the things we imagine in the future to be here today.
One of their projects, Precious, uses multiple technologies (including the Twitter API, GPS, SMS, and algorithmic analysis of various sensors’ outputs) to create a bicycle with a brain. Every 5 minutes, the bike reports temperature, cadence, humidity, road grade, speed, direction, and location in a text message. The text message is received and parsed by the Twitter API, and then analyzed by Breakfast’s servers. The analysis is meant to replicate that of a human brain, giving the bike real character and personality. (For example, if Precious is experiencing 90% humidity, 95 degrees Fahrenheit, a 10% grade and is heading due west into the prevailing winds, it might start compaining. Wouldn’t you?) The rider, Janeen, is riding across the U.S. to raise money for Team Livestrong. Besides building Precious, a great way to attract extra attention for a fundraising charity, Breakfast has also worked on other projects such as an iPad-controlled blimp (for which they ask, “Why not?”)
While some of their stuff seems a bit silly, perhaps indulgent, their philosophy is definitely applicable to innovating city services. Why can’t we synthesize all the incredible technology that already exists, and simmer it down to something greater than the sum of its parts? Tell me, why not?