Ford’s built a new concept Emoji Jacket it hopes will help cyclists “better communicate” with drivers.
The jacket concept was unveiled earlier today. It has been made in partnership with Designworks as a part of Ford’s wider “share the road” initiative, which aims to reduce the number of road accidents between cyclists and drivers.
It works using a custom LED panel that’s housed in the jacket’s back. The wearer can instruct the jacket to display specific emojis using a custom wireless control that can be clipped onto “most” bike’s handlebars.
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It’s not clear what specific emoji’s the display can render, but Ford’s spokesperson claims they’ll cover everything from if the cyclist’s feeling anxious to what direction they’re turning.
Emoji expert Dr. Neil Cohn, who worked on the concept, explained:
“Emojis have become a fundamental part of how we use language. Whether used to convey facial expressions, humour, 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.”
Personally, given the way most interactions between London Black Cab drivers and cyclists go, we’re seeing two particular emoji’s becoming popular fairly quickly – the first being gooey brown, the other a red frowny face. But the concept is cool nonetheless.
Sadly, it’s unclear if Ford has any plans to release the jacket as a full blown consumer product, rather than a proof of concept. Even if it does, it’ll likely be quite a while before cyclists will be able to pick on up to wear on their morning commute.
In the meantime, there are a few other cycling products that offer similar features. Companies like Livall have been releasing a steady stream of Bluetooth smart helmets for quite a while – though these tend to offer basic directional information using LED lights, rather than full blown emojis.