SRAM is one the world leaders in the bike equipment industry. The company has a long history investing into research & development of new and innovative technologies. After more than 4 years of development, SRAM introduced the game changing E-Tap technology, allowing wirelessing gear shifting. The technology was first sold on road bikes, using wireless shifters and derailleurs. But do we need shifters at all?
For decades, companies have done a great done at making shifting faster, easier, and more reliable. But now is the time when we have the opportunity to take a big leap forward. I was given complete freedom to experiment and find new experiences using the E-Tap technology. Working with the advanced development team in Chicago, we challenged ourseltheves to find the most intuitive way to shift gears. Instead of improving the experience, we created a new one, where shifters and the Human body merge into one. No more shifters on your bike, say hello to a shifting glove.
Some initial interviews led us to the conclusion that, like with any other wearable technology, it should truly become invisible. For us, that means having a shifting glove that is as be light, confortable, and nice looking as a classic glove. During 2 months, we studied the hand anatomy, tested several conductive fabric, threads and sensors, and developed the smallest electronic shifting box ever. That led us to the development of 2 in-house technologies : one using conductive fabric, and the other using force sensitive resistors. Afters dozens of failed prototypes, we managed to build the world first shifting gloves. Functional, and indistinguishable from any classic glove. They look the same, feel the same, but have superpowers inside!
Tap anywhere with your index to shift up, with your major to shift down. Tap with the two at the same time to shift the front derailleur. It's that simple.
The first time wearing an e-glove was one of these "Ah Ah!" moments for everyone. It's a whole new experience that changes the way you ride. It's faster, easier, and more intuitive than the best shifters on the market. You don't need to reach for your shifters anymore, meaning that you can position your hands wherever you want on the handlebars, or even shift with no hands on. You are free.
One of the major challenges we encountered during the research was the unsollicited shits that could occur while riding. Think using your phone, closing yoru jacket, grabbing a bottle, and above all braking... Therefore we studied the cyclist behaviors, and analysed every action using the fingers : speed, duration, intensity, you name it. We found patterns that allowed us to create a specific firmware that can distinguish an unsolicited shift from an intended one.
No more tap. No more reaching out to the shifters. No more missed gear. Lighter, faster bikes. The shifting glove we developped at SRAM brings the bike controls to your fingers. With only 2 fingers you can easily control your front and rear derailleurs at a crazy speed and ease of use. I was fortunated enough to develop this incredible proof of concept and can't wait to see where the future of bike industry is heading to.