Finding the way through busy traffic on two wheels can be daunting for cyclists, especially for those who take their eyes off the road to glance at navigation apps. This can also increase risk – both for them and for other road users and pedestrians.
A group of cycling-enthusiast employees at Ford have come up with a unique wearable that enables riders to find their way around more easily, and more clearly displays their presence and intentions to others, when connected to an app.
Smart mobility improves road safety for all
“At Ford, we want to help people – and goods – move more safely, confidently and freely around our cities,” said Tom Thompson, project lead for the Ford Smart Mobility team.
“The smart jacket concept helps us to better understand how the different players that are a part of the urban mobility ecosystem – cyclists, cars, and pedestrians – can better co-exist through the application of smart technologies and how we can apply those learnings to future ideas.”
Smartphone connection directs riders, warns motorists
The smart jacket concept has sleeves that light up to show when wearers plan to turn right or left.
Wirelessly connected to a smartphone, the jacket’s bike-friendly navigation app vibrates the appropriate sleeve, so riders know which way to go, using routes that avoid busy roads and junctions.
And there is no need for cyclists to take their eyes off the road or their hands off the handlebars to consult a smartphone screen. Audible and haptic interfaces enable riders to take calls, receive messages and repeat navigation guidance. The jacket also integrates a flashing brake light.
Collaborating to drive innovation
Developed with urban cycling clothing specialists Lumo and mobility software experts Tome, the smart jacket concept underlines Ford’s collaborative approach to innovation.
Further advanced features in the pipeline would enable commercial dispatch riders to access calls and messages using hand gestures and voice commands.
The use of bone conduction headphones avoids blocking out sounds from pedestrians and other road users, as earbud headphones might do – sending sound to the inner ear via vibrations to the jawbone.
For now, the smart jacket remains a prototype. However, Ford is in the process of securing the patent that it might in future be further developed or licensed to others, along with the companion app and know-how.