LED wheels turn into mobile screens

15 January 2014
, CarsGuide

What kind of wheels make you attractive to the opposite sex? Muscle vehicle, sports, luxury... little motorbike ones with strange LED screen capability? Yes, it's the last of those, according to a commercial out of Thailand.

The ad -- showing attractive women choosing geek on small bikes over tough guys on muscle bikes -- is for ‘Wheelies’, an aftermarket bike accessory designed to turn  a wheel into a full-colour LED screen projecting images and animations while in motion.

The technology uses 'persistence vision' – the brain sewing together coherent imagery from input at high speeds, in this case generated from 424 LED lights on each of the eight-spoke wheels, with a computer monitoring the speed and position of each spoke to project the image.

The company's chief technology officer, Chris Ziomkowski, said the idea cam to him after seeing a spinning lightsabre in a Star Wars movie, and he applied the same persistence vision principles. “You have to track the where the wheel is at any given time and have to know the exact position of each blade," he said in a statement. "Then you have to light the LEDs based on what you want the picture to be, and you have to do that very fast.”

The use on a vehicle would make it difficult for anybody except surrounding traffic to see the image -- no onboard movie screenings for the passengers, we imagine -- so, it's obviously looking like the next step in vehicle billboards.

Created by Bangkok tech brand World Moto, the Wheelies are still in development stage and at the moment can play only 30 seconds of video on a loop -- but there are plans to extend that time to full-length movies.

“The technology has the potential to turn essentially any wheel in the world into a brilliant, full-color billboard or video screen,” World Moto CEO Paul Giles said, adding that it could add personality to a motorcycle.  “It gives the bike a face, sort of like an avatar.”


Watch the desktop version of the Wheelies video here.


This reporter is on Twitter: @KarlaPincott