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Bicycle navigation systems hit the streets

gadgets Updated: Nov 07, 2011 12:52 IST

Technology companies are looking to tap into the growing popularity of cycling in Japan with the release of navigation systems specifically designed for bicycles.

A new term -- "pottering" -- has even been coined for the increasing number of people who enjoy leisurely explorations of urban areas by bicycle. And firms such as Pioneer Corp. say their new electronic map devices are ideal for "potterers."

Compact navigation systems have long been standard features in cars in Japan, but Sony Corp. was one of the first to create a device designed specifically for cyclists. The nav-u NV-U37 was released in June and as well as monitoring times, distances and providing a scrolling map, is able to direct the user to routes with less steep inclines or alternatives to main roads with heavy traffic.

Panasonic Corp. is planning to release its first navigation device for bicycles in November, with a suggested price of Y40,000 (€371.22).
The Gorilla CN-MC01L is waterproof and additionally capable of displaying the speed at which the bicycle is travelling and the amount of calories the cyclist is burning.

Pioneer is adding to the competition in the sector with the unveiling on October 25 of its PotterNavi, designed to meet the needs of an estimated 3 million Japanese "potterers." And while the pastime may not be something that is commonly practiced in other countries, the company still believes it will catch on in markets overseas.

The system has a 2.4-inch liquid crystal display that can be attached to the bicycle's handlebars and takes advantage of the mobile phone network to connect to the Internet.

As well as all the standard functions, the PotterNavi is able to display information on weather along the planned route and identify areas during which a rider can complete a round trip within a given time period.

The device will be released in February and is expected to cost around Y40,000 (€371.22). Pioneer has set a sales target of 1 million units globally by 2015.