Ofo has a bold idea to turn their little yellow bicycles into mobile air purification devices. An exclusive partnership between Ofo and Studio Roosegaarde was announced during a press conference at the World Economic Forum / AMNC17 at the end of June.
Smog Free bicycle’s concept design borrows the idea from the existing Smog Free Tower. The bicycle intakes polluted air, cleans it and releases the clean air. Daan Roosegaarde is the designer of the Smog Free Tower project. The giant tower is the world’s largest smog vacuum, sucking polluted air and cleaning it using positive ionisation technology. Historically, positive ionisation technology has been used for air purification in hospitals.
Ofo CEO Wei Dai and Designer Daan Roosegaarde are two social entrepreneurs who share the same vision, to solve problems in urban areas. The partnership flows naturally between these two young leaders.
Roosegaarde’s design philosophy is one that doesn’t necessitate the use of new high technologies, but one in which using things that can be implemented into existing frameworks in 3 to 5 years. He thinks a designer’s role is to not only create mental maps to make people think about the future but, also, to come up with proposals for new businesses.
Ofo is expanding the bike sharing network to more than 170 cities in 7 countries. Ofo continues to experiment with different designs and marketing strategies to attract riders. For example, in July 2017, ofo debuted its Minions-inspired bicycle. This time, with the Smog Free bicycles, ofo is embarking on something quite different.
Based on the “polluted air intake – air cleaning – clean air release” conceptual design framework, the Smog Free bikes can be thought of as mobile air cleaning devices. The cumulative effect of the air purification will largely depend on the available amount of the new ofo Smog Free bicycles for riders. The cost of the design and manufacturing process will be part of the business development strategy. Considering theft cases involving the Minions-bicycle, securing the air filter on the new bikes will be a design challenge. The maintenance for the air filters as well will be an additional operating cost for ofo. I am looking forward to the solutions from this cross-border collaboration and the debut of the Smog Free bicycles.