POC, the Swedish manufacturer of cycling helmets and apparel, continues its quest to make riding safer. Last year, the company unveiled a collaboration with Volvo and Ericsson to put sensors in its helmets that would help drivers avoid hitting cyclists. Now they've figured out a way to build lights directly into cycling wear so that riders are even more visible to motorists.
The technology, which POC engineers describe as “printed light,” actually dates to the 1960s aviation industry. Back then, single-use lights were mixed into paint and applied to the undersides of airplane wings. Thanks to advances in wiring and rechargeable batteries, POC has figured out a way to make the technology sustainable by rigging the lights to a USB-plugged lithium-ion battery. The Light-Flex Vest, which features a matrix of luminous polka-dots on the small of the back, casts a bright blue light to ward off motorists and runs on a lighter-sized rechargeable battery that tucks in the zipped rear pocket. When the battery is unplugged and removed, the vest can be washed and dried like any other garment.
POC is still working out charge rates and run times, but they say the vest will hit the market in late 2016. And depending on reception, the company expects to expand the Light-Flex technology to a full range of cycling equipment.