VibriSee: Ain't Those The Cat's Whiskers?
Reflective lights and clothing let bicyclists be seen at night, but one invention, created by students at California State University Long Beach, went a few steps further.... They created VibriSee, cat-like whiskers for your bike that make the bike and the biker more visible in daylight as well as at night. And though the whiskers may look like a cat's, their biomimetic functions are actually more like peacocks, rodents, octopuses, and ctenophores.
Peacocks use their colorful flairs to signal their mating intentions. Octopuses change colors to signal danger in their environments. Cats and rodents use their whiskers to estimate how much space is available to them in any environment. And ctenophores are brilliantly luminescent.
Bio-signaling incorporated, VibriSee, which won third place at this year's international Biomimicry Student Design Challenge, aims to give more visibility and, thereby, more control to bikers - control of their own destinies, like not getting downed by an opening car door or getting fender-bumped off a turn.
The VibraSee, a mountable set of four long whiskers will not only provide luminescent visibility day and night, but will be able to signal intentions, like when a biker intends to make a right or intends to stop. Additionally, the 'whiskers' will define a biker's space (in fact, to a few feet wider than automobile drivers want to give them), by flaring their whiskers and flashing warning lights. If not needed, the whiskers can curl up into themselves.
The USC student designers, led by Channing Shattuck, began their investigation by interviewing bicyclists in the Long Beach area and asking them about their safety concerns. Then, like all good biomimicists, they spent a lot of time at the zoo.
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