Head- and tail-lights certainly do a lot to help cyclists be seen at night, although they generally don't let motorists know which way those riders are planning on turning. That's where good ol' hand signals come in. In order to make those signals more visible, former Google software engineer Zach Vorhies has created Zackees illuminated turn signal gloves.
Each glove has an array of LEDs embedded in its back, which are powered by two onboard coin cell batteries. Those LEDs form a blinking directional arrow, and are activated simply by touching a pair of metal contacts together – one on the inside of the glove's thumb, and one on the inside of its index finger.
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When the user extends either arm out to signal, the arrow on that glove will light up for as long as the contacts are pressed together. Although the photos in this article show the arrows pointing straight to one side, Vorhies has since altered the design to have them angled more towards the pinky finger knuckle, allowing for the more commonly-used extended-arm (instead of right-angled-arm) style of signaling.
All of the electronics are enclosed in a waterproof polymer, so the gloves can be washed. If the contacts do accidentally meet during washing or storage, the LEDs will automatically turn themselves off after being powered up for an extended period. In any case, when the blinking gets faster and dimmer, it's time to replace or recharge the batteries – this will reportedly occur once every three to six months, depending on how often the LEDs are used.
While traditional hand signals will let the arrows be seen by drivers behind the bike, Vorhies suggests that in situations where riders are more concerned about being seen by oncoming cars, they should leave their hands on the bars so the arrows are facing forwards. That could get stressful for the rider, as there are likely to be plenty of times where they don't want to choose between front and rear visibility. Perhaps they'd just want to stick with the extended-arm signals, and simply flip the back of their hand forward when vehicles are approaching ..?
Zach and his business partner Murat Ozkan are now raising production funds for Zackees, on Kickstarter. The cheaper early bird pledge levels are already sold out, but US$69 will still get you a pair – when and if the funding goal is met.
You can see the gloves in use, in the pitch video below.