Back in my day, kids used to put little plastic beads on their bicycle wheel spokes to make them “flashy.”  Now it looks as if these kids grew up and got training in optics.

Plastic beads have been replaced with synchronized LED lights which generate colorful animations as an ordinary bike wheel spins away.  Not only that, you will be able to create your own animation to be displayed on your computer and upload it to your bike with ANIPOV when it goes on sale at the end of January 2013.

The base package which sells for 18,900 yen (US$220) consists of two LED units, a positioning magnet, and animation software.  The “positioning magnet” attaches to the wheel frame so that the lights know which way is up. This allows stable picture for the viewer while the wheel spins.

Each LED unit consists of a row of 32 full color LED lights on each side (64 total).  While using one LED unit is theoretically possible it would throw the wheel balance way off.  Using two units provides a smoother animation and keeps the wheel balanced.

You can add extra LED units as well for an even more natural image. Additional units are sold for 9,800 yen (US$114) each.

Using the software included and connecting the LED units via USB you can create an upload your own animations up to 150 frames. Here’s a video demonstration, but notice how it’s a little hard to capture the effect on photo and film. Once the camera man changes the filming speed it becomes more clear.

That’s because the name ANIPOV is a combination of “animation” and “persistence of vision” which is the fundamental optical theory behind animation, film, and television.  Persistance of vision theorizes that the eyes have a “memory” and if the image can change faster than this memory then it appears to move.

The LED units run on three AA batteries and are determined not rain or flood resistant by the makers, who also specify that they work on standard 26 inch wheels.  The lights will be distributed by Trump Co. and were developed by Sun & Moon Laboratory with the assistance of BitTradeOne.

Aside from being stylish, these lights can improve safety by making you more visible to cars.  While this makes it safer for cyclists, I’d have to think more cars will be driving into lampposts while staring at these wheels.

Source: ANIPOV, Sun & Moon Labs via Akiba PC Hotline (Japanese)
Video: YouTube – mikekoma