VibrisPro is a smart gloves concept that helps bike riders navigate safely through busy streets. With rapid growth in cycle delivery services recently, the team identified an opportunity to make urban navigation safer and more efficient. Current navigation technologies can be distracting for the cyclist, requiring the user to take their eyes off the road to check the map or use earphones to follow verbal instruction and therefore, reducing their auditory sense in busy traffic.
How it Works?
The wearable technology concept from Design Partners is connected to the rider’s smartphone and provides directions via a series of pulses on the back of each hand. The innovation seeks to improve cyclists’ safety when traveling through busy, and often dangerous, streets.
VibrisPro is showcased in a short explanatory video below:
The smart glove encourages efficiency through a gamified, shared experience of navigation and users can personalize settings such as haptic intensity or haptic start distance. The primary navigational signals simulate rumble strips on roads to naturally direct users to upcoming turns, whereas incoming digital messages are shorter, sharper sequences, clearly differentiating navigation from notification.
Cathal Loughnane, Chief Creative Officer at Design Partners explains the rationale behind the design:
“People experience the world around them through a complex array of sensory inputs. At Design Partners, we’re interested in how design and technology can directly influence sensory engagement for people. Using emerging technologies to create meaningful and valuable user experiences is central to what we do. The touch sense is greatly underutilized in today’s digital world. Visual and audio inputs are becoming more and more dominant in user experience, but both require heavy cognitive load to process in the human brain.”
And the benefits it would have to courier cyclists in particular:
“With VibrisPro we wanted to create a navigation experience that intuitively guides the cyclist with the minimum of distractions, keeping eyes on the road and focus on the task. We chose cycle couriers because the benefits are obvious, guided navigation while keeping eyes and ears open to the surroundings of a busy city.”
Safety Concerns from Gig Economy Riders
Food delivery companies such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats have boomed in the last 18 months, as a result of an increase in take-out ordering due to the pandemic. These cyclists of the gig economy, however, have increased the number of urban cyclists, making the streets much more congested. A survey issued by University College London revealed that 41% of those who use mobile phone apps while working found that the app distracted them while driving or cycling. 75% of those surveyed also agreed or strongly agreed that “there have been occasions while working where I have had to take action to avoid a crash”. Delivery drivers are usually at their busiest in the evenings and at night-time, when there’s much less visibility and they are still expected to provide delivery services in bad weather.
Cycle Accidents in the US
Standing at almost 50 million in the United States, the number of regular cyclists increases year on year. But this, unfortunately, also comes with an increase in cycling accidents. In 2018, 857 cyclists died in crashes with drivers, the deadliest year for cyclists since 1990. In 2019, while the total number of deaths decreased slightly to 846, New York recorded their highest number of cyclist fatalities ever. Cycling in large metropolitan cities can be extremely dangerous and many people are discouraged from taking up cycling in these built-up areas with busy streets and limited cycle infrastructure. In a study from late 2020, it was revealed that First and Second Avenue in New York were two of the most notable areas for cycle accidents. Both Avenues are extremely busy city streets with little room for cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles to all share the road.
How VibrisPro Can Help
The team at Design Partners have explored innovative ways to make cycling safer for everyone; from Sunday cyclists to delivery bike riders. The wearable technology is a working concept at the moment and is ultimately seeking to improve cycle safety through integrated, high-quality technology.
For further information about VibrisPro, visit https://www.designpartners.