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By 1 August 2018 | Categories: news

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If you’ve ever tried to make your way through busy streets on two wheels while trying to check your smartphone to navigate, you’ll know it’s a pretty daunting task.

A group of cycle-enthusiast employees at Ford have come up with a wearable jacket that enables riders to find their way around more easily, and to more clearly display their presence and intentions to others, while connected to an app.

Developed with urban cycling clothing specialists Lumo and mobility software experts Tome, the SmartJacket concept has sleeves that light up to show when wearers plan to turn right or left. Wirelessly connected to a smartphone, the jacket’s bike-friendly navigation app vibrates the appropriate sleeve, so riders know which way to go, using routes that avoid busy roads and junctions.

Ford states there is no need for cyclists to take their eyes off the road or their hands off the handlebars to check a smartphone screen. Audible and haptic interfaces enable riders to take calls, receive messages and repeat navigation guidance. The jacket also integrates a flashing brake light.

For now, the SmartJacket remains a prototype. However, Ford notes it is in the process of securing the patent that it might in future be further developed or licenced to others, along with the companion app and know-how.

Further advanced features in the pipeline would enable commercial dispatch riders to access calls and messages using hand gestures and voice commands. This while the use of bone‑conduction headphones should avoid blocking out sounds from pedestrians and other road users, as earbud headphones might do – sending sound to the inner ear via vibrations to the jawbone.

Check the video below to see the jacket in action.

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