Retractable Glowbelt shines a light on road safety
By Richard Moss
July 18, 2014
It can be scary and more than a little perilous to be on the roads at night if you're not in a car, with being visible the first step to avoiding an accident. Even if you wear light colors, many drivers may not see you until it's too late. Such concerns about road safety drove UK-based design house BMC Innovations to create the Glowbelt, a self-retracting one-size-fits-all belt covered in enough LEDs to make you both highly visible in the black of night and well-dressed for a rave.
Developed in conjunction with Brake, a road safety charity, the Glowbelt weighs 54 g (1.9 oz) and contains 13 high-power micro LEDs attached to a 1.3-m (4.3 ft) long spring-loaded retractable fiber. To be offered in blue, green, and pink color options, the device is powered by two coin cell batteries that should keep the lights flashing for up to 60 hours before they need to be replaced.
BMC Innovations claims that wearers of the belt/sash – or objects it's wrapped around – are visible from 200 m (656 ft) away. According to BMC's research, the number and distribution of the LEDs makes the human eye three times more likely to spot a person wearing the belt than with conventional high-visibility clothing with reflective strips and a fluorescent body.
The theory essentially being that reflective clothing is only visible from a distance within a narrow field of view, whereas an array of LEDs should be noticeable from just about any angle within direct or peripheral vision.
The pocket-sized Glowbelt is also designed to be versatile. It can be attached to the guy lines on tents to prevent people tripping over them, or strapped onto hikers, cyclists, joggers, children, or anyone else who might have need for extra visibility in the dark. And BMC thinks you'll look good wearing it.
"It was important to us that Glowbelt was more than just a safety device," BMC's Creative Director Sean Sykes said. "We wanted something that people would want to wear."
A Kickstarter campaign aims to raise £40,000 (US$68,000) to cover the costs of manufacturing and any last-minute refinements ahead of a planned retail release later this year if all goes to plan. You can pledge £12 (US$20) for one Glowbelt, £20 (US$34) for everything you'll need to 3D print one yourself, or £35 (US$60) for three.
Check out the Kickstarter pitch video below for more details.