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LED Wristband Makes Bicycling Safer

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Rendering of the Intelligent Blinker, as posted on EPFL School of Engineering website

Rendering of the Intelligent Blinker, as posted on EPFL School of Engineering website

A group of doctoral students at a Swiss engineering college are the latest inventors from around the world working on products to make the roads safer for bicyclists, especially at night and in cities. Five Ph.D students at the School of Engineering at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created a wristband that flashes when a cyclist is making a turn, according to the school’s website.

The wristband, named “Intelligent Blinker” was recognized as a worthy invention at a European competition called the Texas Instruments Analog Design Contest held early this year in Munich, writes Bharat for DamnGeeky. Bharat adds that the wristband is solar-powered and has LED lights and other electronics that glow in the dark when the cyclist extends his or her arm to indicate a turn. The five developers are working on scaling the wristband down to the size of a small watch from its current dimensions of 5 square centimeters (just under 2 inches), Bharat writes. The students will then add additional sensors for more functions and work on reducing its energy consumption, as Ben Coxworth reports for Gizmag.

The wristband would be worn as a set of two, one on each wrist. It contains an accelerometer and a magnetometer, which allow it to recognize when it changes its orientation, Coxworth writes. The bracelet can be adjusted so that the LED lights begin blinking as the angle changes, he adds. It is chargeable via USB, in addition to being solar powered.

This is not the first such gadget to be invented, Coxworth writes. There is a bracelet called Safe Turn that also automatically lights up when a cyclist extends an arm; however, it works via an internal tilt switch instead of an accelerometer or magnetometer. There are also two brands of manually activated gloves that light up with LEDs, Zackees (in which the LEDs form an arrow shape) and Doppelganger gloves (which were created in Japan), Coxworth notes.

Coxworth adds that a bracelet similar to the Intelligent Blinker recently failed to meet its crowd-funding goal on Indiegogo. Developed in Budapest, the Useeme Bicycle Turn Signals bracelet raised only 13% of its 25,000-Euro goal in a campaign that ended on August 10. However, since the campaign was a flexible funding one, its creators will get to keep the money. They write on the campaign’s updates page that they will move forward with creating a “test batch.” They write: “We will keep working, Useeme Bicycle Turn Signals will be a product very soon, and we can’t wait for you to use it.”

As the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center reports, in the U.S. in 2012, 726 people were killed in bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles,” this blog wrote a few days ago. Coxworth notes: “Needless to say, the more visible your hand signals are, the safer you should be.”

Here is a video about the Intelligent Blinker:


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