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Luminescent whiskers: the latest innovation in bike safety

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

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?

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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