Lumigrids is a simple, clever and above all useful concept that aims to improve the safety of cycling at night. The device is an LED projector that fits on the handlebars of your bicycle, projecting a square grid onto the ground before you. By looking at the changes and abnormalities in the grid, the cyclist is able to easily pick out potholes and other obstacles, helping them to avoid potential crashes and falls.

The team behind Lumigrids claim that the design is an improvement over traditional bicycle lamps, which casts shadows around both concave and convex obstacles, making it difficult for the rider to judge the surface effectively. Lumigrids' grid projection system makes it a lot easier to identify the nature of the abnormalities, with the squares of the grid bending and changing in an easy way for the rider to process.

The projector has three different settings, offering a variety of grid sizes that are designed for use in different situations. The device's normal mode will display a 140 x 180-mm (5.5 x 7.1-inch) grid, the high speed mode ups the area to 140 x 260 mm (5.5 x 10.2 inches) and the “team” mode widens the grid to 300 x 200 mm (11.8 x 7.9 inches).

Like normal bicycle lights, the light itself will also alert pedestrians and vehicles to the rider's presence, further improving safety. The device is powered by either the movement of the bike's wheels or by an internal battery. There's only one button on the device, which should make it possible to turn the projector on and off and run through the modes while on the move.

The Lumigrids device isn't the first time we've seen projectors used to improve cyclists' safety. Xfire's Bike Lane Safety Light projects a virtual bike lane on the road around the bike, while the BLAZE light projects a symbol of a cyclist onto the road in front of the rider. Combining one of these with Lumigrids might just provide the ultimate cycling safety kit – that's if you're OK with looking like something out of Tron.

Lumigrids was created by a team of researchers from the Sichuan University in China, and has been awarded the Red Dot Design Award for 2012. There's no word yet on whether or not the device will be produced commercially.

Source: Red Dot Awards