Luminescent whiskers: the latest innovation in bike safety

VibriSee borrows designs from nature to promote to promote safety on the road

by Mat Brett   June 10, 2014  

Vibrisee

If you don’t feel safe on your bike in the city, there’s only one answer: equip your bike with VibriSee flexible, illuminated whiskers.

You what? Read on, it’ll all become clear.

VibriSee is a product developed by students from California State University Long Beach and entered in the Biomimicry Student Design Challenge. This Challenge, open to students worldwide, asks students ‘to work collaboratively in teams to apply biomimicry concepts and tools to arrive at a sustainable and innovative design solution’.

Biomimicry, as you might be able to work out if you don’t already know, is a science that studies nature’s models and then uses/adapts the designs and processes to tackle human problems.

According to the designers, the VibriSee’s luminescent tendrils ‘exponentially increase visibility of the cyclists both day and night through a combination of both fluorescent bands and stripes of emitted light’.

The four whiskers can also change their configuration, allowing the cyclists to signal their intentions.

And finally, VibriSee allows the rider to indicate their spatial zone by flaring their whiskers and flashing warning colors.

The students say, “VibriSee is more than just a solution, it has the potential to transform the world of commuting by empowering the average cyclist with solutions straight from nature.”

They interviewed members of the Long Beach bicycle community and determined three main concerns relating to cycle safety: communication of a rider’s intentions, day and night visibility, and allocation of lane space when sharing the road.

The students identified several animals they believe to have evolved attributes with the potential to solve these concerns: peacocks, ctenophores, and rodents.

What do you mean, you don’t know what ctenophores are? Ctenophores (or ctenophora) are comb jelly marine animals. Still struggling? They’re swimming things that often possess bioluminescence. Still no? They can glow.

With that in mind, the students developed the fluorescent VibriSee whiskers that can glow and flash to help get you seen, allow you to convey your movement intentions, and flare outwards to signal the amount of space you require, the idea being to discourage motorists from attempting to cut you off.

Here’s the video to promote the project.

Biomimicry Challenge: VibriSee from Channing Shattuck on Vimeo.

Reckon this product is the cat's whiskers? Or is it a dead duck?

27 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Oh, just sod off!

posted by bikebot [641 posts]
10th June 2014 - 16:47

25 Likes

bikebot wrote:
Oh, just sod off!

LOL

'Just popping down to the shops for a bag of sugar, dear...

'Brake check, check...

'Lights, check...

'Helmet, check...

'High vis, check...

'Whiskers...?....FFS'

posted by congokid [130 posts]
10th June 2014 - 17:15

24 Likes

1st April?

Airzound

posted by Airzound [374 posts]
10th June 2014 - 17:20

15 Likes

"‘exponentially increase visibility"

Proportional to what? Speed? Darkness? Surely they can only increase visibility by a definite, finite amount.

posted by finbar [92 posts]
10th June 2014 - 17:21

21 Likes

Words. I can't find the words. Halp.

posted by Argos74 [297 posts]
10th June 2014 - 17:51

15 Likes

Crazy, but cars may well think twice about getting too close just due to the sheer 'WTF is that?' factor!

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [365 posts]
10th June 2014 - 17:57

26 Likes

Not sure if having this extending beyond the width of the vehicle is legal. Anyone know? Confused

posted by cbrndc [12 posts]
10th June 2014 - 18:17

7 Likes

This might win, so long as there are no cyclists in the judging panel to point out the idiocy.

My fave biomimicry cycling thing is the Trotify clip clop coconut hooves hooked into the front wheel. http://www.trotify.com/

posted by vbvb [256 posts]
10th June 2014 - 18:35

24 Likes

Can't wait to put them on bike then whip the pedestrians on the pavement as I go past. Rolling On The Floor

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [594 posts]
10th June 2014 - 19:07

25 Likes

Well that's going to be REALLY popular on the narrow segregated 2-way bike tracks like Torrington Place and shared use Sustrans paths in the UK, isn't it?

"why did you just whack my dog in the face?"
"oh, it's a safety thing"

posted by nuttyxander [4 posts]
10th June 2014 - 21:19

20 Likes

I can't wait for them to get caught in someone's spokes.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1170 posts]
10th June 2014 - 21:38

13 Likes

I'm going to wear them on my head at all times. I don't like prople coming near me. Any people. Ever.

posted by Sara_H [56 posts]
10th June 2014 - 21:38

22 Likes

They're not whiskers. They're tentacles.

posted by Argos74 [297 posts]
10th June 2014 - 22:22

16 Likes

Good to see Californians working hard to maintain their reputation.

posted by paulfg42 [376 posts]
10th June 2014 - 22:53

13 Likes

I'd buy that for a dollar....wait, that's New
Detroit.

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

The _Kaner's picture

posted by The _Kaner [461 posts]
10th June 2014 - 22:58

17 Likes

That's surely the stupidest thing I have seen all day, what you need is machine guns.

posted by drfabulous0 [380 posts]
10th June 2014 - 23:21

28 Likes

cbrndc wrote:
Not sure if having this extending beyond the width of the vehicle is legal. Anyone know? Confused

I'm in trouble! My arse extends beyond the width of mine! Laughing

a_pilau's picture

posted by a_pilau [6 posts]
10th June 2014 - 23:39

14 Likes

congokid wrote:
bikebot wrote:
Oh, just sod off!

LOL

'Just popping down to the shops for a bag of sugar, dear...

'Brake check, check...

'Lights, check...

'Helmet, check...

'High vis, check...

'Whiskers...?....FFS'

In tests, eight out of ten riders who expressed a preference....

I'll get my coat.

'It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning' (Henry Ford)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [226 posts]
11th June 2014 - 6:10

24 Likes

The article is written in a patronising style.

The video has too much detail on how they thought up the product, and doesn't actually show it, which makes you wonder whether this is real or an elaborate hoax.

posted by HarrogateSpa [110 posts]
11th June 2014 - 8:14

8 Likes

HarrogateSpa wrote:
The article is written in a patronising style.

The video has too much detail on how they thought up the product, and doesn't actually show it, which makes you wonder whether this is real or an elaborate hoax.

It reminds me of that video - was it on this site that it was referenced? - of the guy in the US who had a sort of 'wire' sticking out to one side, the exact length of which forced drivers to give him the legal minimum when passing.

It's a pity that we have no such mimimum distance here. What we need is such a law, as well as diamond-tipped rods protruding out towards the right.

That, or a collapsible tonfa in one's shorts (feed lines.....).

'It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning' (Henry Ford)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [226 posts]
11th June 2014 - 8:31

6 Likes

They need a small tungsten steel tip like an ice tyre stud.

Dipped in puffer fish toxin.

posted by MKultra [238 posts]
11th June 2014 - 9:14

7 Likes

I'll go against the hate and say, interesting concept.

But not the flaring bit, that's silly. Though it is a correct statement of how much room you should be given.

No, in swept mode, this looks like a fairly decent addition to the dark winter commuting armoury.

posted by bendertherobot [303 posts]
11th June 2014 - 9:24

6 Likes

Only three letters can describe my thoughts on this:

WTF Surprise

Redvee's picture

posted by Redvee [79 posts]
11th June 2014 - 9:28

6 Likes

I AM IN!

TAKE MY MONIES!

This is brilliant. The video starts off with an otter.

What more does anybody require?

posted by farrell [1517 posts]
11th June 2014 - 9:41

12 Likes

I like the "look to nature" approach to problem solving - perhaps Mark II whiskers can draw on the 600 volt shock capability of electric eels to remind drivers they've strayed across the line!

Sudor

posted by Sudor [182 posts]
11th June 2014 - 9:44

8 Likes

Can I have something modelled on a trap-door spider please? That way, any car driver who comes to close gets eaten. Devil

posted by levermonkey [378 posts]
11th June 2014 - 15:21

5 Likes

It's not given much credence on here but I think its got something. It may not be the final product either but smart ways to visually delineate the space a cyclist needs is a good idea. And biomimicry is a good way to go.

Many of us more experienced cyclists may well not feel the need, We're confident, we're able to keep a sufficient speed to hold a lane but for newbies, the slower, older or younger cyclist commuting in cities there might be something in this.

and I say that as a rather traditional old git.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [660 posts]
12th June 2014 - 10:53

7 Likes