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Ford’s Emoji Jacket designed to help cyclists who struggle communicating with motorists

Ford’s prototype Emoji Jacket is designed to improve understanding between cyclists and drivers.

With governments eager to promote cleaner air for cities, cycle lanes are now commonplace and millions of people across Europe choose to ride into work or cycle for sport and pleasure.

But for novice cyclists not using the purpose built cycle lanes in cities like London, communication between drivers and cyclists can be difficult. Riders have the difficult task of removing one hand from the handlebars to indicate changes in direction or to express thanks.

Each year, according to the EU Commission’s Traffic Safety Basic Facts, around 2,000 cyclists are killed on Europe’s roads.

Now – as part of its ‘Share The Road’ campaign – Ford has commissioned a prototype Emoji Jacket. This one-of-a-kind creation, which is not available to buy, is designed to show how tensions could be eased by enabling riders to more easily and more clearly show drivers what their intentions are – and how they are feeling.

Since first being created more than 20 years ago, emojis have been described as the first language born of the digital world and, according to the first “Emoji Trend Report”, most people feel more comfortable expressing their emotions through emojis than a phone call.

The jacket features an LED mesh panel that can display:

  • One of three emojis 🙂😐🙁

  • Arrows ⬅️➡️

  • Hazard signal ⚠️

The cyclist activates each emoji, indicators and the hazard sign using a wireless remote mounted on the bicycle’s handlebars.

Emmanuel Lubrani, ‘Share The Road’, Ford of Europe, said: “We are now living – and driving – in a world where communication is crucial. But all too often between drivers and cyclists this just comes down to the beeping of a horn or a rude gesture. Cyclists usually have to take a hand off the handlebars to communicate. The Emoji Jacket uses a universally understood means of communication to show one way in which tensions could be eased – and we all learn to ‘Share The Road’.”

Dr. Neil Cohn PhD, Assistant Professor at Department of Communication and Cognition at Tilburg University, said: “Emojis have become a fundamental part of how we use language. Whether used to convey facial expressions, humour, or sarcasm, they have become integral to our ability to express ourselves and quickly. This jacket created in partnership with Ford ‘Share the Road’ allows riders to express their feelings and creates an important emotional link between them and other road users.” 

Ford’s ‘Share The Road’ campaign seeks to foster harmony between road users and underlines the company’s belief that enabling more people to cycle safely, especially for short journeys, benefits everyone.

The company has produced an award-winning virtual reality experience so that drivers and cyclists can better understand the challenges of each other’s journeys.

‘WheelSwap’ enables motorists and cyclists to see how inconsiderate driving and riding can be at the least hair-raising –and potentially fatal – for their fellow road users. Initial studies show that after undergoing the experience, nearly all participants said they would change their behaviour.


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