My top picks from the ''Innovate or Die'' contest

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The Innovate or Die pedal-powered machine contest was

designed to inspire innovation and environmental change by highlighting the benefits of cycling in an unprecedented way. The challenge is to invent and build machines that transform zero-emission human energy into new and useful purposes, one pedal stroke at a time…

All entrants uploaded videos to the contest’s YouTube group, so anyone can take a look. Looks like 102 entries were submitted. Kudos to all of the entrants!

Earlier this week, I posted about the group of MIT students who pedal-powered an energy-efficient supercomputer. They “spun” this as a new record in human-powered computation. My thought is that the performance of humans powering computers should be measured in FLOPEBs: Floating Point Operations Per Energy Bar. Here’s their entry.

Pedal-powered supercomputing aside, I was most excited about the projects that involved bicycles that move. Stationary pedaling is just not my style. Of the entrants focused on bicycles for transportation, my favorites were the human-electric hybrid and the solar gondola. Both look like fun to drive.

The bicycle ambulance entry is also transportation-oriented, and is very purpose-driven.

I’m a big fan of safely listening to music while pedaling (see my iHome bicycle speaker review,) and so was very impressed by the video of the Choprical Fish (Human-powered party bike). If you haven’t seen it before, be sure to see the demo.

I liked the City Cycles entry, which described a young business focused on offering software (bits!) and consulting services to organizations interested in establishing bicycle lending programs.

Finally, I’m a big fan of the entry prototyping a low-tech approach to pedal-assist. Check out the video of their rubber band powered bike.