Noxgear creates brighter fiber optic safety vests
April 25, 2013
Many cyclists and runners enjoy training after nightfall. To do that that, they need to stay safe, and staying safe means staying visible. Ohio-based sports design company Noxgear is aims to help out with its lightweight Touch and Tracer360 fiber-optic sports vests.
The idea for the night vests was born when the designers wanted to play ultimate Frisbee (or just ultimate, as it's now known) at night. They struggled to find a suitable way of staying seen, so they created their own.
Torch was conceived for night sports such as ultimate, but also soccer, football and tag, while Tracer360 is targeted at runners, cyclists and walkers. Torch comes in a selection of colors (cyan, magenta, green, orange, red and yellow), while Tracer360 is equipped with multicolor blinking modes. Both offer what Nexgear calls True 360 Degree Coverage, which in the case of Tracer360 also defines its reflectivity.
In addition to using Cree LEDs, Noxgear has ensured the optical fiber minimizes light loss. The company collaborated with optical fiber partners to come up with an optimized PMMA solid gel core optical fiber. No heat or electricity is required, and the material is very efficient at transmitting and emitting light. The combination of the fiber and the Teflon-clad shield is so resistant and flexible that it became an integral part of the structural component that secures the vest to the user.
Minimalism guided Noxgear when it conceived the products. The company wanted users to be able to wear it comfortably in any season, under any weather conditions, and with all sorts of garments and equipment. That includes other running or cycling gear, such as a hydration belt, riding shirt or head lamp. The package weighs less than half a pound (225 g), including batteries.
Putting the vests on is also very simple. A single quick-clip buckle ensures a swift process, which is finished off with a quick adjustment to the slides on the elastic belt. The control button is recessed into an enclosure to prevent accidental pressing when getting dressed.
Power comes from AAA batteries. Noxgear says they can last over 20 hours to power Torch and over 40 hours for Tracer360. The system features a digital boost converter that regulates the power sent to each LED thousands of times a second, maximizing efficiency and durability. A blink and a color change system tells the user how much charge is left on the batteries.
Keeping it all together is the Nexus, a light-weight and low-profile plastic enclosure, which also houses the embedded electronics, LEDs, batteries, and the fiber optic retention system.
Noxgear raised funds for its safety vests through a Kickstarter campaign that has already surpassed the target. There's still time to back the project. The Torch Multicolor Illuminated Sports Vest costs $47, the Tracer360 $57.
The video below shows a jogger in a Tracer360.
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