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Pittsburgh Art on Wheels

A hacker's take on mobile platforms. 

Projection Bike (AKA Pittsburgh Art on Wheels) is a system which uses a projector mounted to a bike along with sensor data transmitted from a cell phone to create an interactive visualization system for bike riders. Projection Bike was created over the course of a week for the Carnegie Mellon build18 hardware hackathon.

The Story of Pittsburgh Art on Wheels

Let's start from the beginning...

Our team had initially planned on mounting multiple projectors to the bike, tying in google street view, and projecting the scenes from other locations around the world on the road around them. However, as we began to really dive into the nitty-gritty of what made the project interesting, we realized that there was much more potential in our platform. Having a display which reacts to the rider enables us to inform the rider of the environment around them, let other people on the road identify rider intentions, and even play games while riding!

Implementation and Construction

Projection bike uses two huge batteries mounted to the bike to power a small laptop, and wireless router, and the projector. A user simply mounts their phone on the bike, and the laptop receives the sensor data wirelessly from their device - allowing for interactive motion based applications. The software platform for Projection Bike was creating in Processing, and a user can swap to different applications by hitting numbers on their phone.

Safety is Key

The main application our team developed for Projection Bike is a utility to aid in rider safety. It projects a rear-view in front of the rider, reducing the need to take a rider’s eyes off the road. We also implemented proximity detection to alert riders when cars are coming up close behind them, as well as turn automatic turn indicators to allow riders to signal their intentions to cars around them without taking their hands off of the handlebars.

Fun is... fun!

We also implemented some more recreational applications for the bike platform. The most successful of these was a game in which riders try to stack blocks while the tilt of their bike affects the gravity in the game world. Riding straight helps a rider stack blocks, deviating from a straight line threatens to topple the block tower. It is a game type which both trains solid bike fundamentals, and creates an engaging gaming experience.


Projection Bike is a fully functioning prototype and was shown in the build18 Hackathon at Carnegie Mellon University. Projection Bike was featured in the Tartan under the name “Pittsburgh Art On Wheels”.
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