Pelation are helping Cyclists to stay safer on London's roads through their innovative bike lights and cameras. LSBU are helping the business to test and iterate elements of their Rebo Dashboard Camera design, which live-reports incidents and reduces near-misses for cyclists on the road. This will enable companies like Transport For London to better map cycle routes.
You've been working with our programmes since they started. How are you enjoying it?
It’s a great opportunity to be working in this group – I am looking forward to working with other engaged academics and interesting businesses.
How long have you been at LSBU?
20 years at the university – I did my phD at LSBU, and then I became a Research Assistant and lecturer, etc.
"My advice for start-ups is to start small – don’t necessarily aim to create a global product or service at the beginning – start with something simple. When you know that works, then you can scale up from that"
Professor Perry Xiao's advice for early-stage start-ups
What did you do before you worked at LSBU?
I lived in China and did my undergrad degree – I did my B-Eng inopto-electronics, and then an MsC in Physics in China, then I came to LSBU to undergo my PhD in Physics here.
When did you start working on the Pelation project?
We had our kick off meeting in Spring 2020. Since then we have been refining various stages of the project, and the research work will begin shortly.
What support are you planning to give? And what expertise or interests do you bring to the group?
I will supervise the new research assistant’s work – as a team we will concentrate on the electronic aspect of prototyping, to develop a camera which will monitor the speed and distance at which vehicles pass by a cyclist. The aim is to understand at which point speed and distance become risks to a cyclist.
What has been your experience of working with the business so far?
They are a great company to work with – very ambitious, and have worked hard to get some appropriate partnerships in the industry. I think their idea is very exciting and I hope it gives more people the confidence to cycle safely in the city.
How will working on this project benefit you/your school?
Firstly– we can build connections with these exciting companies, and then perhaps it can lead to a bigger research project. I appreciate when we are able to build long-term relationships with these businesses.
Secondly– working with these types of businesses helps improve the LSBU research ratings as we can write papers on innovative developments that other people aren’t working on.
Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to on this project?
I would like to see how the first step of the research goes – if we can effectively monitor the vehicles passing the cyclist. From there I hope we can have further collaborations.
Are there any aspects of working with businesses that you think might be a challenge?
Working with companies can always have its challenges – but one thing I find frustrating is when you hope to publish a paper with them but there are restrictions on the IP. Technical issues and developments can sometimes be a challenge too, but I enjoy finding ways to overcome those.
Let's talk more about you ... What does a ‘typical’ day look like?
My daily routine is divided into different parts – I spend a lot of time teaching undergrads and postgrads, and I spend time with my PhD students on their research. I make time for collaborations and research pieces with industry and other universities. And of course, there’s always admin work to do!
What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind?
Physics – it’s not as dull as people think. I really admire Professor Brian Cox – his documentaries are fascinating. Because of him a lot of people have been inspired to learn more about physics – it goes to show you can influence people!
If you weren’t an academic, what would you be?
Because of my science and tech background, I would probably work in the industry doing technical R&D working for a company.
What is your top tip for a start-up or SME developing a new product?
Number 1 tip - My advice for start-ups is to start small – don’t necessarily aim to create a global product or service at the beginning – start with something simple. When you know that works, then you can scale up from that, and iterate and improve the product. It’s important to start small and aim to test the product in a short time period to keep costs low while you try to get the product into the market.
Tip 2 – try not to compete with large companies, it’s better to find some gaps in a market. There’s no point competing against Cadbury’s making chocolate bars. Once you’re more established then you can compete with the big guys.
What’s your favourite thing to do outside of work?
Travelling, running, swimming, badminton, listening to music.