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Digital guardian angel

Automatic emergency call enhances safety for e-bikers

View of the bike handlebars of an eBike lying on the ground- with focus on SmartphoneHub. The screen of the cell phone shows the automatic crash message of the COBI.Bike app.

As of March 2018, all newly registered cars in the European Union must be equipped with the eCall automatic emergency call system. Bosch is harnessing its vast experience in digital emergency call systems for the automotive industry to develop similar applications that boost safety for e-bikers, motorcyclists — and, very soon, inhabitants of smart homes.

Ever more people are discovering the benefits e-bikes offer — for work and pleasure

Drone shot: bird's eye view of an e-bike rider.
E-bike riders often head out alone.

Both commuters and hobby cyclists are increasingly converting to e-bikes, also known as pedelecs (pedal electric cycles). In 2020, pedelec sales were up 43 percent on the previous year, boosting overall numbers by roughly 30 percent. What’s more, they tend to get used between two and three times more often than bicycles without an electric motor — and for substantially longer journeys. That should come as no surprise. After all, what better way to broaden your horizons than with an electric motor providing an unflagging tailwind? Thanks to the battery’s supplemental boost, a ride to the office or into the countryside is even more of a pleasurable exercise. And thanks to Bosch, these journey are about to become a whole lot safer. With the Help Connect service in combination with the COBI.Bike app, e-bikers now have a digital guardian angel to watch over them.

A “digital guardian angel” with integrated emergency call function

View over the shoulder of an e-bike rider riding on a narrow path in the forest. Focus on bicycle handlebars with smartphone hub. The screen shows riding data such as speed.
Together with the COBI.Bike app, the SmartphoneHub creates a fully connected control center. Mounted to the handlebars, it provides a clear overview of all key functions.

In the event of a collision or fall, the COBI.Bike app automatically triggers an emergency call to the Help Connect service. This feature includes a 30-second emergency countdown, during which the rider can confirm whether assistance is required. Should the rider fail to react within this time, the call is diverted to the 24-hour Help Connect service team. In other words, if the accident is particularly serious, a specially trained emergency call assistant is automatically notified.

Once the rider has confirmed the need for assistance, or if the emergency call assistant detects that the rider is stationary and not responding, the emergency services are notified. As a rule, this is done via telephone. In the case of newer emergency vehicles, however, the control center can transmit the GPS coordinates of the incident directly to the ambulance’s onboard navigation system.

For first responders, every minute counts

Driving shot of the approaching Red Cross ambulance with blue light.
Precise location data enables the emergency services to pinpoint the scene of an accident.

Tobias Lang, 33, knows that speed is of the essence. He has been a paramedic with the German Red Cross rescue service in Esslingen-Nürtingen since 2007. On average, he’s called into action four or five times a month and often has to deal with medical emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes, fainting, and domestic falls. He’s also regularly called on to attend to fallen cyclists and e-bikers. “On a callout, the crucial thing is to provide help as quickly as possible. Every minute counts.” If an accident occurs in the forest or another off-road setting, however, it can be difficult to determine the precise location. It’s therefore crucial that first responders receive precise information about the site of the incident as quickly as possible — which is exactly what this solution from Bosch provides.

Portrait shot of paramedic Tobias Lang looking out of the window of the Red Cross ambulance.

The crucial thing is to ensure that people receive help as quickly as possible in an emergency.

Tobias Lang, paramedic

Smartphone sounds an alarm to alert passersby

Close-up of the SmartphoneHub mounted on the bicycle handlebars. The emergency countdown of the COBI.Bike app can be seen on the screen of the mobile phone.
Following a crash, the COBI.Bike app triggers a 30-second countdown. If there is no reaction during this time, the Help Connect call center is notified and attempts are made to reach the e-bike rider by phone.

In bringing Help Connect and the COBI.Bike app together, Bosch has leveraged its extensive technological know-how. For example, using a smart algorithm, the app is able to detect when an e-bike has crashed. This feature makes use of triple-axis accelerometers and gyroscopes — two sensors installed in most modern cellphones. Data on the location and severity of the accident is immediately transmitted to the Bosch Help Connect emergency call center. Depending on the nature of the accident, a decision is made whether to trigger an emergency callout. With the Help Connect service, e-bikers also enjoy a supplementary safeguard: whenever a fall is detected, the smartphone also emits an alarm via the app so as to alert any passersby in the immediate vicinity to the accident. In addition, e-bikers can also contact Help Connect manually should they feel unsafe while riding off-road or require assistance for another cyclist who has been in an accident.

Between 8 and 15 minutes

is the legally-prescribed time limit for emergency services to reach the scene of an accident in Germany (the precise number varies by state). In an emergency, the first few minutes are crucial.

An ambulance is standing in the background on a forest path, paramedic Tobias Lang is walking through the forest towards the viewer with rescue equipment.
Paramedic Tobias Lang is regularly called out to attend to injured pedelec riders.

Red Cross paramedic Tobias has seen his fair share of injured cyclists and pedelec riders. Even the most proficient of them can get into difficulties. “We had one callout to an injured e-bike rider who had hit a pothole in the forest and crashed,” Tobias recalls. “He had a broken femur and a dislocated shoulder, so he couldn’t reach his phone and call for help.” It was hours before hikers happened on the injured rider and notified the emergency services. This is exactly the kind of situation that the Bosch COBI.Bike app in conjunction with Help Connect is designed to prevent. At present, the Help Connect service for e-bikes functions via a live mobile data connection to the cellular network and is available to users of German SIM cards. In addition, e-bikers can also contact the Help Connect service team outside of Germany, either in German or English. This service is currently available in Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, and Spain.

The digital guardian angel also watches over motorcyclists and smart homes

E-bikes aren’t the only two-wheelers that can be equipped with the automatic emergency call system from Bosch — motorcycles can too. The popular motorcycling navigation app calimoto, for example, now features Bosch’s Help Connect automatic emergency call function, thereby offering motorcyclists the same boost to safety. At home, too, people should be able to feel completely safe and secure within their own four walls.

With this in mind, Bosch is working on a range of smart-home products and services for Help Connect. These include protection against fire, flooding, and intruders. In other words, Help Connect is rapidly evolving into a digital guardian angel, providing extra safety both on the road and at home — truly an example of technology “Invented for life.”

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