Irene Posch

These LED-studded gloves not only look nifty, but could save lives, too.

Bicycle lights have evolved to the point where they could stun a rampaging rhino from a thousand feet with the sheer power of lumens. But their effectiveness is limited to only showing where a bicyclist is, not where a bicyclist plans to go. And at night, drivers often can't see your hands gesturing to indicate a left or right turn.

The "Early Winter Night Biking Gloves," created by Vienna-based tech artist Irene Posch, tackle this safety issue with a design ripped straight out of Tron. These futuristic fashion accessories are made from felt or knitted wool and are studded with 3-millimeter LEDs arranged into the shape of arrows. As Posch explains on her website:

Raising visibility is a big issue for urban bikers. The Gloves aesthetically and functionally translate this need: Winter nights come early, thus there is more need for extra lighting; at the same time it is cold, so wearing gloves is necessary anyway. Preserving the look and feel of normal gloves, LEDs showing a turn signal light up when the hand is stretched out and a fist is formed, a strong signal for following cars....

Choosing gloves as the basis allows to have the signal actually at the furthermost extension of your body, being for following cars not just an indication that you are turning, but also what distance they should keep from you. Also, risks that the signal is covered by a backpack or similar, as possible when directly mounted in a jacket for example, are kept minimal.

How does making a fist activate the lights? The fabric that Posch uses is threaded with metal hairs to make the gloves electrically conductive, a not-unheard-of trick in the world of crafting. (Check out these lamp-dimming pom poms.) Closing the hand completes a circuit running on a tiny 3-volt battery and bing! On go the diodes.

Another feature of these pieces of wearable technology: The fingertips are conductive as well, allowing a rider to use a smartphone while pedaling down the street. How the gloves hold up when a distracted biker is violently skidding hands-first on rough asphalt has yet to be determined.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    What ‘Livability’ Looks Like for Black Women

    Livability indexes can obscure the experiences of non-white people. CityLab analyzed the outcomes just for black women, for a different kind of ranking.

  2. photo: San Diego's Trolley
    Transportation

    Out of Darkness, Light Rail!

    In an era of austere federal funding for urban public transportation, light rail seemed to make sense. Did the little trains of the 1980s pull their own weight?

  3. photo: NYC subway
    Transportation

    Behind the Gains in U.S. Public Transit Ridership

    Public transportation systems in the United States gained passengers over the second and third quarters of 2019. But the boost came from two large cities.

  4. Design

    Why Amsterdam’s Canal Houses Have Endured for 300 Years

    A different kind of wealth distribution in 17th-century Amsterdam paved the way for its quintessential home design.

  5. Equity

    How Poor Americans Get Exploited by Their Landlords

    American landlords derive more profit from renters in low-income neighborhoods, researchers Matthew Desmond and Nathan Wilmers find.

×