Project Aura: Ethan Frier and Jonathan Ota Reflect on Their Two Year Journey-Project Olympus - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Project Aura: Ethan Frier and Jonathan Ota Reflect on Their Two Year Journey

Project Aura illuminates the wheels of your bicycle, increases your visual presence on the road and better communicates to drivers your presence and behavior. But it is more than just a beautiful bicycle light, it is a platform for drivers to better understand bicyclists. By illuminating the wheels, drivers are immediately aware that a bicycle in the road is, in fact, a bicycle, a human-powered vehicle with two wheels... no two ways about it. It's also smarter than your average bike light, conveying speed by changing color and automatically turning on and off based on ambient light and bicycle motion.

Freshman year at Carnegie Mellon, in the midst of a particularly difficult point in one of the first ever studio projects, a professor told us that design was like birthing a baby. "It's messy, painful, and takes hours upon hours of emotional and physical labor. But in the and you have a beautiful thing which you have created from nothing and brought into the world."

In a way, the birth of Project Aura was an accident, an unplanned pregnancy, if you will. It was our sophomore year of college, things get crazy, you know, and before we knew it we found ourselves with this little beautiful accident. It wasn't the actual product that was an accident-we worked tirelessly for months in addition to our regular studio and course conceiving the prototype. But its success was very much an accident.
By the end of the academic year, we had finished the prototype and made a video, which we posted online. At that point, we thought the project was done-that it would be a nice portfolio piece, to showcase alongside our other work. We both packed up and went back to our homes to Southern California and Baltimore. A week later, Core77 wrote an article about the project, and before we knew it, the video had 100,000 views. E-mails started coming in, asking when, where, and how it could be purchased. We were shocked, overwhelmed, ecstatic and scared.. Read More»