Philly app-makers want to protect night bikers

    A South Philadelphia company wants to employ smartphones for yet a another purpose, as convenient safety lights for urban bicyclists.

    The “Monocle” is an app for the iPhone to make its camera flash blink in a pouch, which, as Bryce Beamer demonstrates, can clip onto a rider’s belt.

    The warehouse workshop of Studio KMD is big enough that Beamer can ride across the room. The case has a red filter. If he were outside in the dark, the flashing light would alert drivers that they’re sharing the road.

    Beamer thinks a lot about bike safety since he had an accident three years ago.

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    “I ended up getting some staples in my head and I kind of learned an important less here,” he said.

    His latest innovation does require the user to keep track of the pouch, and it drains a phone’s battery pretty quickly, but Beamer thinks of the Monocle not as a bike light replacement, but as a get-home-safely backup.

    “This gives you an opportunity to use a device that you already have with you and,” Beamer adds, “maximize the potential of that device.”

    Still, the app has been a bit of a hard sell for Studio KMD. This was the first product the four-person shop tried to fund on Kickstarter. That campaign has just come up short, netting $1,730 rather than the $8,000 Beamer wanted.

    Beamer says he did get what bigger firms might call market research.

    “We need to determine whether we should continue to look for partnerships that would help the product move forward,” he said. “Or should we focus on perhaps different products or different projects?”

    That big decision, whether to push forward with the Monocle, will take time, he said.

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