John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Or it will make you look like a glowing reject from the Tron universe, one or the other.
Fancy yourself a bit of a superhero? Then you probably wouldn't be riding a bicycle, more like a rocket-powered gun-shooting motorcycle. If you don't happen to have one of those in the garage, here's the second-best thing: a high-tech cycling suit crammed with lights and sensors and microprocessors, appropriately titled the "Sporty Supaheroe." (Bad-ass sunglasses sold separately.)
The futuristic garb, only slightly less ridiculous than actual Lycra bike clothes, is the product of a collaboration between Austrian designer Utope and Berlin research concern Fraunhofer IZM. An award-winning entry at the 2013 Red Dot design contest, the suit is intended to increase cyclists' safety while making them look like they stumbled out of a video game. It's smart enough that it translates bodily movements into blinking red-and-white LEDs, giving cars a constant reminder of a rider's location and inspired fashion taste.
Here are a few specifics from Red Dot:
The integrated technology is based on stretchable circuit board technology. It is made with thermoplastic polyurethane, onto which meandering copper conductors, microcontrollers, and further components (LEDs, sensors, and a switch) are applied. To increase safety and usability, the system is embedded into a flame-resistant, non-woven, water-repellent outer textile layer....
The principle application offers increased visibility for cyclists in the dark, helping them to avoid accidents. Further possible applications are a warning-alarm function, protection against theft, and navigation.
You have to love detail about fire resistance – after all, you can't have a superhero melting into a hot puddle at the first villain with a flame-thrower that he (she?) meets. There does seem to be one major flaw, though: an on-off switch. I bet Tony Stark dealt with that issue in his very first prototype, after a low-level baddie shut down all his systems with the flick of a finger:
Images from the Red Dot Award