Garmin acquires South African bike radar startup iKubu



Garmin announced the acquisition of iKubu – South African start-up which developed low-energy radar technology for bikers called Backtracker. The radar mounts on the rear of the bike, with the data sent wirelessly to a device mounted on the bike’s handlebars. It can detect cars approaching from the back at a distance of 140 meters.

Garmin is one of the global leaders in GPS consumer devices. Although it started from PNDs (Person Navigation Devices) back in 1989, today the brand is mostly associated with GPS solutions for runners and cyclists with low-, mid-, and high-end watches.

With the acquisition of iKubu Garmin invests in solving a real-life problem of cyclists around the world. And the market is huge. In Europe bikes are a major urban mean of transportation for most of German, Danish and Dutch citizens. In US cycling is also beginning to be more and more popular. Cliff Pemble, the CEO of Garmin, said in a press release:

iKubu has found a way to implement short-range radar into a low-power system that addresses a common concern among cyclists — identifying potential hazards that are approaching them from behind. We are
delighted to add this technology to the Garmin portfolio.

iKubu was founded in 2006 by Franz Struwig and Denho Geldenhuys, as a spin-off from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. The idea for Backtracker was born in 2010 when the team wanted a technology solution to help reduce the risk associated with cycling in traffic. Guys at iKubu spent a year trying to secure South African and international investors for Backtracker. Instead, they decided to take the product to market on their own through a successful crowdfunding campaign.

iKubu employees will now join Garmin’s branch in South Africa, where they will “continue to operate primarily as a research and development center,” the company says. Financial details of the acquisition weren’t disclosed.

Aleks Buczkowski
I'm a professional always thinking outside the box and a self-confessed gadget addict. As a son of a professor of cartography I was surrounded by maps all my life and as a result spatial way of thinking and seeing reality is naturally embedded in who I am.