Future Tech: The Magnic Light

A human-powered bike light that won't slow you down

I ride my bike a lot at night without lights. Not because I’m some devil-may-care, vehicle-code scofflaw, but because I tend to either lose my lights or leave them on in my messenger bag, blinking into the darkness until the batteries are dead.

That’s why dynamo-powered bike lights are such a genius idea for people like me. Dynamos get their power from your hub or friction off your rim’s sidewall, so there’s no need to recharge the batteries or take the lights off and worry they’re throwing a disco party without you. Using them is as simple as getting into a car at night and turning the headlights on.

But dynamos do have their drawbacks. The friction from a sidewall unit can really slow down your bike, and the only alternative—lights that get their juice from an internal hub generator—will make your bike feel heavier than a rolling mastodon.

Enter the Kickstarter-funded ingenuity of German inventor Dirk Strothmann, creator of the Magnic Light, the “first contactless dynamo driven bike light system with no additional components in the wheels.”

How does the Magnic Light work? I can’t claim to be an expert on the science involved, but from what I understand, the light powers itself from the eddy currents created by strong magnets and the rotation of a bicycle wheel. The Magnic Light is frictionless and makes no contact with the wheel—it uses electrical currents induced in a conductor by a changing magnetic field. Here’s a video demonstration of the light in action, set to exciting electro music that proves you’re witnessing the future in illumination technology:

Sounds pretty good, but there’s just one drawback—like most dynamo-powered lights, the Magnic Light flickers out when you’re not in motion. This is currently being addressed by Strothmann and his team—upcoming versions will integrate a steady light function.

It’s small, it works with all standard wheels (except full carbon wheels), and it can handle all kinds of trying weather conditions. Check it out, and support the development of this cool frictionless tool at Kickstarter.

Kickstarter campaigns can be pretty hit or miss, but amid the jumble of noble causes and baffling artistic endeavors are some pretty great ideas. Post-apocalyptic role-playing games, climbing memoirs, a lightweight civilian space suit—there’s no question the crowd-funding site has rolled out some winners. In this series, we’ll sift through Kickstarter for brilliant product ideas that we feel represent the future of outdoor tech.