Ford introduced a prototype jacket that aims to “ease tensions” between cyclists and drivers and therefore make road accidents happen less often.
In an effort to improve safety of those who choose to ride bikes, Ford in cooperation with Designworks studio developed a one-of-a-kind piece of clothing that has a large LED mesh panel on the back that displays several signs, including three emojis (happy, angry, and neutral faces), left and right arrows, and a hazard sign. To show any sign on the display, cyclists will need to use a wireless remote placed on the handlebars.
Tilburg University professor Neil Cohn said in a statement: “Emojis have become a fundamental part of how we use language. Whether used to convey facial expressions, humor, or sarcasm, they have become integral to our ability to express ourselves and quickly. This jacket created in partnership with Ford Share the Road allows riders to express their feelings and creates an important emotional link between them and other road users.”
The jacket is created as a part of Ford’s “Share the Road” initiative, the mission of which is “to enable road users' understanding of each other when sharing the road.”
Communication between drivers and cyclists can be extremely dangerous as the latter need to take their hands off the handlebars in order to adequately express their emotions or intentions on the road. It all results in tragedies like traffic accidents and cyclist and pedestrian deaths. According to the EU Commission’s Traffic Safety Basic Facts, about two thousand bicyclists are killed annually in Europe alone.
Currently, the emoji jacket is not available for purchase, and it is unknown whether the automobile giant plans to put it on the market anytime soon. The jacket will likely remain a prototype, and no one will be able to use it.
Even though Ford’s initiative and introduction of the emoji jacket are appreciated, perhaps it would make more sense to improve the existing infrastructure and reduce car traffic on the roads to make cyclists’ experience safer.