2024 Contest Now Accepting Entries!

Submit your best new product ideas for a chance at $25,000, other great prizes, and global recognition. If you already are registered, log in to access the entry form. Otherwise, click here to get started.

Help build a better tomorrow

Since Tech Briefs magazine launched the Create the Future Design contest in 2002 to recognize and reward engineering innovation, over 15,000 design ideas have been submitted by engineers, students, and entrepreneurs across six continents. You can also join the innovators who dared to dream big and build a better tomorrow by entering this year’s contest.

Read About Past Winners’ Success Stories

Over the past 20 years, many innovators have used the recognition afforded by the contest to advance the development and marketing of their technologies. We highlight some success stories of past winners who have brought their inventions to the marketplace.

Click here to read more

A ‘Create the Future’ Winner Featured on ‘Here’s an Idea’

Spinal cord injury affects 17,000 Americans and 700,000 people worldwide each year. A research team at NeuroPair, Inc. won the Grand Prize in the 2023 Create the Future Design Contest for a revolutionary approach to spinal cord repair. In this Here’s an Idea podcast episode, Dr. Johannes Dapprich, NeuroPair’s CEO and founder, discusses their groundbreaking approach that addresses a critical need in the medical field, offering a fast and minimally invasive solution to a long-standing problem.

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Thank you from our Sponsors

“At COMSOL, we are very excited to recognize innovators and their important work this year. We are grateful for the opportunity to support the Create the Future Design Contest, which is an excellent platform for designers to showcase their ideas and products in front of a worldwide audience. Best of luck to all participants!”

— Bernt Nilsson, Senior Vice President of Marketing, COMSOL, Inc.

“From our beginnings, Mouser has supported engineers, innovators and students. We are proud of our longstanding support for the Create the Future Design Contest and the many innovations it has inspired.”

— Kevin Hess, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Mouser Electronics

Follow Create the Future

Regenerative braking bike front wheel

Votes: 13
Views: 16986

Imagine riding your bicycle down the sidewalk at 20mph. Just as you approach a driveway entrance to a store, a car turns from the street into the driveway, cutting you off. You brake safely to a stop, and because of your new Regenerative Braking front wheel, you can press a button and bring your bike up to over 15mph without any pedaling or external energy !

This invention is real and you can ride a prototype today ! It uses state-of-the art hydraulics to store braking energy for later release. The goal is to ultimately make it a retrofit front-wheel for any bicycle using hydraulic pump motors that exist today and are over 94% efficient. It can store hill energy too. You can check out an actual demo video at:

Other applications include providing 2-wheel drive for mountain biking, range extension for wheelchairs, extra torque and acceleration for small utility vehicles, delivery and other city stop-and-go vehicles.

These braking demands call for a deceleration in the range of 3-4m/s2. As a general note, "Tip-over" deceleration for a bicycle is typically over 4.5m/s2. To achieve this intensity of braking for a bicycle at 20mph requires over 4 horsepower of energy absorption ability. If we were to try to perform regenerative braking with an electric motor, 4 horsepower is a huge electric motor for a bicycle. A smaller electric motor may be able to perform this amount of energy absorption for short durations, however at much less than the 94% absorption efficiency that we see with our hydraulic pumps.

For energy storage, the hydraulic accumulator is much better than the battery. The state-of-the-art hydraulic accumulators are over 97% efficient. Small 20amp-hour batteries used for electric bicycles are not (and may not be) built to absorb this amount of energy efficiently. A 20-amp-hour battery is typically less than 65% efficient at these energy-absorption rates. So it seems that hydraulics for moderate-to-heavy city-type braking and acceleration is the most efficient solution.

We calculate that using today's available off-the-shelf hydraulics, the 20' bike wheel should add less than 12 pounds to the weight of the bike. Because acceleration is such a large part of the burden of riding a bicycle, the hydraulic wheel will more-than makeup for its weight.

As a side note, The pressures and hydraulic parts used in our system have been used safely in mobile systems for many years. The hydraulics in the center of the wheel do not spin. We have not encountered any instability issues.

We believe this invention will increase the marketability and usefulness of bicycles. We have estimated that this retrofit front-wheel for any bicycle is likely to cost $175 in a retail market.

For comparison and cost-effectiveness, an electric bike retrofit is about the same weight & cost, however it needs to be plugged in at night and the batteries will need to be replaced/recycled after 800 charges. We have one of our original systems that still works today after 5 years of demos !

  • Awards

  • 2010 Transportation Category Winner


Voting is closed!


  • Name:
    David Swain
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    David M. Swain
    Frank Maurer
    Jason Moore
    Albert Shih
  • Profession:
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
  • David's favorite design and analysis tools:
  • For managing CAD data David's company uses:
    SolidWorks PDMWorks
  • David's hobbies and activities:
    unicycling, computer networks
  • David belongs to these online communities:
    notBago (GoTech)
  • David is inspired by:
    laziness, inconveniences, safety
  • Hardware used for this entry:
    Parker Hydraulics
    Software used for this entry:
  • Patent status: