Cyclist injuries and fatalities are high in London, where about half a million people use bikes as their key mode of transportation. In 2013, 14 cyclists died and 475 were seriously injured during bike journeys in Central London. To adapt to both the growing number of cycling commuters and the relentless car and foot traffic of the city, London-based Future Cities Catapult has designed a Google Glass-like helmet prototype that could help cyclists be more aware of their surroundings and highlight the safest routes in their travels.
The idea is that cyclists could more easily navigate when one cycle path bleeds into another, giving riders data in real time rather than tasking them with memorizing a safe bike route through data on apps such as City Mapper. This kind of digital “soft infrastructure” seeks to take advantage of both modern technology and existing urban infrastructure.
The helmet visor, dubbed the Heads-Up Display, gives push notifications as well as the potential to develop “imaginability” for a given route, using local benchmarks to help make the routes more memorable to riders. Other prototypes include a handlebar device that would assess air quality and pollution for cyclists, as well as a blind-spot recognition device that could alert cyclists to areas where bus drivers, for example, can’t see a space from a certain angle.
Future Cities Catapult has experience with connecting technology and navigation. Its designers worked with Microsoft last year on a device to help blind city-dwellers get around London.
“This kind of tech won’t solve the problem singlehandedly — that may require more concerted efforts by regulators — but the blind-spot visualization mock-up suggests different things that so-called ‘machine-to-machine’ tech could do. Small things that might help,” Dan Hill, chief design officer at Future Cities Catapult, told Dezeen.
See how the prototype works in this video.
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.