Researchers Develop Wireless Bike Brakes

November 23, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. wireless (adj.) [wahyuhr-lis] – describes devices operated through electromagnetic waves instead of wires
    Example: The wireless Internet connection in my area is unstable.

2. lever (n.) [lev-er, lee-ver] – a bar fixed at a point and used to move a weight on one end by applying force to the other end
    Example: Seesaw is an example of a lever.

3. clench (v.) [klench] – to grasp, hold, or squeeze together firmly
    Example: He clenched his fists in anger.

4. imperfection (n.) [im-per-fek-shuhn] – a small flaw or bad part
    Example: Imperfections can be avoided by conducting product tests as often as needed.
5. small-scale (adj.) [smawl-skeyl] – involving few things or people  
    Example: The company decided on a small-scale production of the new product to test its popularity with customers.  

Read the text below.

Researchers have developed a wireless brake system for bikes that can be improved further for larger transports like trains and planes.

Unlike ordinary brakes activated through levers, the wireless brake stops the bike when the rider clenches on the rubber grip of the bike's handle. A pressure sensor in the bike grip activates a signal, which travels via radio waves to a receiver attached to the brake.

According to its developer, Holger Hermanns, a computer scientist from Saarland University in Germany, the system works 99% of the time. Out of the trillion times they tested its performance, only three failures occurred. Hermanns found this result acceptable, just like how irregular cellphone and laptop connections are tolerable.

To Hermanns, perfecting wireless bike brakes can open doors to its application to more complex systems. However, unlike with bikes, imperfections on wireless brakes can cause more serious trouble to trains, aircrafts and chemical factories. Hermanns suggested testing the brake system small-scale, and then applying it to more vehicles once it is perfected.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
Discussion A

·         What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of using wireless breaks in transport systems?
·         In Japan, how has transportation changed over the years?

Discussion B

·         Do you think inventions can be 100% successful? Explain your answer.
·         Would you feel safe riding a vehicle with wireless controls?

November 23, 2011