'Smart jacket' lights way for cyclists
Could this clever invention make cycling safer?
Comedian Jon Bridges and BMX champion Sarah Walker have become the first Kiwis to test a "smart jacket" that is designed to automatically warn motorists when cyclists are turning.
Cyclists programme their planned route into the smart jacket using a smartphone app.
Lights on the jacket's sleeve will then light up when they need to turn, while 300 led lights on the back of the jacket act as an indicator for following motorists.
Bridges said the jacket, designed by Vodafone in Holland and Dutch technology firm Magic Bullet, wouldn't replace hand signals or looking over your shoulder.
"When you look behind you it has two effects; it tells you whether it is clear to go and it also signals to everyone behind you that you are about to do something."
But he said he definitely felt safer when wearing the jacket because it made it easier for drivers to predict what he was about to do.
"It is cool and if a light becomes interesting and fun it is likely to be used by more people.
"On a bike you have got to rely on more than one thing and be a super defensive driver and assume that no-one ever sees you, so this would only ever be an aid to safety rather than a replacement for common sense."
The response from car drivers had been positive, Bridges said. "You do notice people smiling and looking at you as they pass."
"The prototype jacket was packed with electronics and the batteries are a bit heavy [but] there are definitely people like me who are interested in safety who will spend money on something like this if they can make it practical," he said.
Vodafone NZ consumer director Matt Williams said the jacket was a "great example of what was possible" in a world where everything was connected.