The Open Bike Initiative is an ad hoc project that launched in 2013 with a goal of designing, developing, piloting and disseminating a model for bike sharing based on open hardware and open source software. The original project objectives were to:
- Design and prototype a low-cost hardware device that incorporates a GPS/cellular module and associated locking mechanism, and attaches on to standard, off-the-shelf bicycles.
- Create client- and server-side software that communicates with the modules and enables the management of bikes in a bike share system.
- Implement the system in a small-scale pilot project.
- Openly distribute our results: (a) make the software freely available under an open source license, (b) publish a technical specification that describes the electronics and mechanical design of the device, and (c) document and publish our experiences with load balancing, maintenance, participant management, wireless services, etc.
The idea was and is provide a template for a new bike sharing model that could be implemented (relatively) easily and (relatively) inexpensively, even by small organizations. Our hope is that this will result in a significant increase in the number of bike sharing programs, with corresponding environmental, health and economic benefits.
In the summer of 2013 we operated a 30-bike pilot project on several Intel campuses in Hillsboro, Oregon, using a text message-based lock code distribution system we now call “OBI 1.0.” Nike subsequently adapted this model for a large scale system on their Beaverton, Oregon campus.
In late 2014, Open Bike Inc. was formed as a vehicle for commercializing the OBI technology and managing the ongoing Open Bike Initiative project. Open Bike Inc. is an Oregon social benefit corporation.