Vodafone smart jacket makes cycling safer

Telco trials smart jacket for cyclists
  • Stuart Corner (Computerworld New Zealand)
  • 06 September, 2016 09:44

Vodafone is trialling a smart jacket for cyclists developed in the Netherlands that is fitted with LEDs that, like a mobile phone’s navigation app, indicate when the cyclist is making a turn.

It connects to the cyclist’s smartphone via an app that has been pre-programmed with the desired travel route. As the cyclist approaches an intersection or street crossing more than 300 built-in LEDs display illuminated arrows on the back of the jacket, informing other road users of the cyclist’s next move. Also LEDs on the sleeves light up to indicate to the cyclist when they need to turn.

The jacket is being trialled and demonstrated by BMX champion Sarah Walker and comedian and cycling advocate, Jon Bridges. It is a collaboration between Vodafone Netherlands and technology company Magic Bullet and is still only at the trial stage in the Netherlands

A Vodafone NZ spokeswoman told Computerworld: “Vodafone does not have any smart jacket costs or timeframes to share at present. Having said that, we think it is the type of prototype that could move quite quickly to become a real product. Early stage discussions are underway on what the next steps could be, and we look forward to sharing more on that in the future.”

Walker said: “ I think the Smart Jacket is a great idea. … There is this perceived idea that cycling is dangerous – so anything that can help take away those barriers is a good thing.” Bridges said anything that boosted safety and improved communication between cars and bikes was a good thing. “If we could ease the perception that cycling is dangerous then we will all be better off.”

According to the Ministry of Transport, in 2014, 10 cyclists died, 158 were seriously injured and 573 suffered minor injuries in police-reported crashes on New Zealand roads.