Reimagining Bicycle Safety Gear

Video: Final Prototype in action

Emily E. Smith


William Truslow

From the beginning, designing the pair of Gloves was a challenge. I knew from the start that I wanted to have the gloves act as turn-signals and that I wanted it to make the user's intentions clear while being simple to operate. After a couple days of brainstorming, I decided that the way to achieve this was to attach lights on the back of the gloves. I wanted them to illuminate when two fingers made contact, so the user had full manual control over the frequency and duration of the illumination.

My first iteration was very basic, sloppy, and hardly functional. It was made from loose-knit woolen gloves, a single LED light, conductive thread, and a AAA battery with a small holder. Conductive thread is a kind of thread that can conduct an electrical current. I began by sewing little patches of thread into the fingers and worked it down the length of the fingers, passing through the LED, and eventually connecting with the battery and holder. My initial sewing technique was very poor, inefficient, and often problematic. The stitch I was doing is called a running stitch and which is a simple technique where the needle is passed over and under the fabric. This technique unfortunately left the stitches inconsistant and loose. So loose in fact, that the user's fingers would get caught on the thread and often would ruin the circuit. Despite the flaws with this design, the LED would still occasionally illuminate, proving that my basic concept was on the right track.

 In order to improve the glove's overall functionality, I began testing different elements of the glove to see if they could be improved. I was testing things like the light source and I explored the possibility of using LED tape and an arduino as opposed to simply sewing on small LEDs. I found that the Arduino and LED tape would be too complex a setup and wanted to keep my design reletively simple. Another thing I tested was new kinds of stitches to see if they were more efficient. Tess showed me a technique called an overcast stitch which is essentially sewing in a small, tight spiral pattern. This in turn made the stitches more abundant, secure, and conductive. 

I then began to assemble my second and final version of the gloves. In this design I opted to use 5 LEDs, a thinner conductive thread, and better gloves while using the same AAA Battery holder. A problem I encountered while sewing the prototype was that I would sew through both sides of the glove. In order to avoid this in the second version I cut a small piece of PVC and wedged it underneath where I was sewing. This fully resolved the problem and it never happened again. In my testing, I realized that the initial patches I sewed into the fingers of the prototype wasnt covering enough surface area on each tip and made the lights not illuminate to their maximum brightness. This made it hard to get the LED to light up. The solution was to sew little patches using reflective fabric and a lot of conductive thread. Unfortunately he material on the palms of the gloves and the front of the fingers was very durable and tough, so much so in fact that it was really difficult to pass a needle through it. To work around this, I glued the patches to the fingers using fabric glue. All of these changes proved to be very effective as the final version of the gloves were far more functional than the prototype.

Final Product

Gideon Hamot

The Patch consisted of two arrows. The arrows consisted of LED strips placed under fabric, covered by clear buttons that diffused the light. The result was that when the LED strips were powered, an arrow would light up.  There were 2 arrows, and both of them were connected to switches that turned them on and off. The result was two flashing turn signals that could be turned on and off at will. If you had the ability to program you would be able to change the colors if you wanted.

Metal Head Biker Outfit: Process

Daniel Lasanta

When I was coming up with an idea of what I wanted to do in the studio, I knew right away I wanted to make a jacket during the time we were given to brainstorm on the first day I drew different jacket ideas. Which were a zombie theme like jacket that on the back would have “flesh torn” and a “spine” exposed which would of light up with LEDs along with some fiber optic tubes that would represent veins. One idea consisted of a Dead Space theme jacket which is a videogame that has an engineering suit that is made of pieces of metal and a long light along the person’s spine that in the game was used to determine the person’s health with lights and different colors. The third idea which became the one idea I settled on was a metal head jacket that would have different stencil designs like of a skull, pentagrams, anarchy signs, images that a lot of people would see that relates to the metal music genre. The jacket would also have spikes on the shoulders that would light up and operate like a car blinker so people will know that the biker is turning.

During the course of the first week I decided to create the stencil designs that would go on the jacket I settled on creating a pentagram stencil and anarchy stencil. I created the stencils on Google sketch-up, and then the files were exported to a laser cutter which cut the designs out. During that time my studio learned of reflective fabric that looks normal in regular light but if bright lights such as headlights from a car or a camera flash were to hit it the material would glow very bright. There was also reflective spray paint that works the same way as the fabric. When I was done with the stencils I did some testing with reflective spray paint using one of my stencils. The outcome of the testing was the paint works very well so I decided to have the stencils be painted with the spray paint when I have a jacket to work with. Near the end of the week I was given a partner that was out for a while and was her first day back to Nuvu. Her name is Maddie and she became a big help in terms of helping me accomplishing things that needed to be sew since my skills with sewing are a bit shaky at  times.

The both of us started looking for a jacket which was decided on a denim jacket. We also got feedback on how to improve the design in terms of making it fashionable. Instead of the spikes lighting up the spikes will be made of reflective material stuffed with cotton. As well as adding LEDs to the lower back of the jacket. We spray painted the stencils on patches that would be sewed onto the back and front of the jacket. We cut out pieces of reflective fabric and made shoulder patches that got sewed on and laser cut the fabric into conical shape that can be sewed to look like a spike. Once this was down and the shoulder patches were on the jacket we stuffed the spikes and sewed them on the patches. For the LEDs I already laser cut seven holes for the LEDs to shine through. For powering the LEDs I took a patch of denim and sewed in a arduino lily pad that is designed to be sewn into clothing. I also had a rechargeable battery which will power the arduino. For the programing aspect I programed the lights to be red and can be turn on and off by a switch that is on the arduino. For the issue with connecting the LEDs to the arduino instead of using wires I used conductive thread that works the same as wire which gives the power from the Arduino to the lights. We finally then and there put everything together the design patches were sewed on as well as the spikes. The patch that houses the arduino, battery, and the LEDs were sewed on the inside of the jacket that will be easy to access to switch the lights on and off as well as being able to get the battery so it can be recharged.


William Truslow

Riding a bike at night can be very dangerous without the right safety equipment or gear. A common problem amongst night bikers that isn't widely addressed involves turning. Bikers use hand signals to indicate when they need to turn, however these signals aren't always visible at night. This is where the Turn-signal gloves come in.

The gloves are modifided biking gloves that are equipped with LED lights on the back. The LEDs illuminate when the index finger and thumb of the glove make contact and they Darken when this contact is broken. The user has the option to make the illumination constant or strobe depending on the frequency of contact.

The gloves are very simple to operate. The user simply inserts their hand into the glove and tightens the velcro strap at the wrist of the glove to keep it snug. The user then turns on the battery compartment on the back and they're ready to go.

Our Journey

Christiana Panicucci

Experimental Phase

Before Julia and I began our journey in making our awesome reflective bike wear, we had to test out the materials that were available to us. Tess bought tons of cool reflective sands, paints and fabrics. In the pictures above you can see the experiments we did

To test the reflective sands we took two different types of fabric, black and white, then we used different colored paints and glues to attach the sands to the fabrics. We then took them into a room where it could be completely dark and used a camera flash and a black light to see how they would react.

The process we used to test the reflective spray paint was pretty similar to the process of testing the sands. We took abunch of different types of fabrics and other spray paints. Then we went outside to spray paint. We tried just using the reflective spray paint, and then we tried using it over other spray paints.Then, as before, we took the fabric into a dark room where we could see how reflective it is. In the end, Julia and I decided that we prefered the relfective spray paint over the regular spray paint because it is the most relfective and the coolest looking.

The Reflective Shirt

This tank top is the most fashionable of our collection. It was our first idea. It is a one hundred percent reflective rasor back tank top. Our first step, was doing one more test to make sure that the reflective spray paint would not just crak off. We took three strips of fabric, with reflective paint on them, and washed them all at different strength to see how it would hold up. We found it did pretty well. As long as the fabric is not too strechy a light hand wash does just fine.

Now we had to start making the shirt. Tess sent us to the Goodwill shop a block away to find a shirt we could use. Julia and I spent awhile looking through the racks to find something just right. We had to make sure the fabric was not too strechy. Finally we found the perfect one and went back to NUVU where the fun began.

Our next step, was to spray paint the entire shirt. That took much longer than we expected, but it turned out great. Then we began the cutting and sewing. Julia and I knew that we wanted a rasor back tank with a relfective, stylish pocket in the front, but we were not quite sure how to get there. Tess gave us some great advice, and in the end the shirt turned out great. We used reflective fabric for the pocket and rasor back.

As you can see in the pictures the shirt came out great. I think the best part about the shirt is that it appears normal during the day, making it perfectly acceptable to wear wherever you are going, but then when it gets dark at night it becomes reflective. This shirt embodies the idea of our line-chic and safe.

Ankle Cuffs

Our ankle cuffs were the most challenging piece of clothing we made. Mostly because we had so little time to complete them. The idea we had was to create ankle cuffs that had snaps at the end and when you put the snaps together the lights turn on, and when you unsnap them the lights turn off. It took the longest time trying to figure out what program to use. Finally, we found the right one, but then came the hand sewing part. Sewing conductive thread is extremely difficult. And it seemed as though everything that could go wrong did. We learned so much from this process. Making these ankles cuffs taught us to think on our feet and learn how to problem solve quickly when we do not have a lot of time. The ankle cuffs work and are pretty cool for a prototype. Julia and I wish for next time that they look a little more polished if we end up making the final version.


Every good fashion line has to have great accessories. Our necklace is similar to the shirt in that it is very stylish and normal in the daylight, but at night is becomes reflective. The jewls were made on sketch up and lazor cut out. They are attached with extra strong wire. The rope is held together buy a very nice blue string. This necklace is perfect for adding a little style to anyones outfit.

Testing of LEDs and Fiber Optic cables

William Truslow

My initial plan for the gloves involved utilizing several LEDs as the light source which would be powered by a AAA battery. However, It became apparent that the AAA battery could not power more than a few LEDs. As an alternative I opted to utilize Two LEDs attached to Fiber Optic Cables which would conduct the light and thus increasing their overall brightness. Yesterday I began to test this by sewing two fiber optic cables to a small but rigid piece of scrap fabric. In order to properly secure it, I had to use something stronger than thread, Fishing Line. After the cables were secure, I sewed a couple of small LEDs to each end and attached them to a AAA battery. This proved to be effective with the Fiber Optic Cables conducting the light beautifully. Today I ran a similar test in which I sewed a strip of LEDs to a similar piece of fabric with fishing line. I then attached a lilypad arduino to the fabric and sewed the appropriate connections to eachother. The - port on the arduino connected to the ground connection of the LEDs, the + port on the arduino connected to the 5V connection on the LEDs, and the 3 port on the arduino connected to the Digital-in connection of the LEDs. After downloading an LED code off the web and syncing it with the arduino software, I ran an strandtest and changed the parameters to my specific situation which proved successful. The LEDs are now lit and change color at random. When a Fiber Optic Cable is held up to each light, it produces a bright, colorful, and a perfectly visible effect. While this test was interesting, I don't think it's entirely practical to incorporate an arduino into the final product. I think that the lights in the glove will be much more similar to the setup used in the first test.


Julia Fein

If we could change one thing about the pants, it would be to have started with a different pair of jeans.  Since the jeans were skinny, we could not roll them up as high as we had hoped.  Also, they were hard to get off with the extra layer of fabric.  If we had more time on the project, we would make a do it yourself kit, or a "how to" guide to teach people how to make the pants.

We're both really proud of the pants and belt.  Both look normal during the day, but they become reflective or lit up at night.  The pants look great, and they are functional.  The biggest thing we learned from making the pants was how to use a sewing machine.  Molly and I both had no prior experience with sewing, and now we feel comfortable with the machine.  Molly and I had also never used an Arduino.  We definitely learned a lot through this studio about both fashion and technology.

| Process | Cklara: The Reflective Robot Flower

Emily E. Smith

Cklara was constructed with much trial and error.  At first I had toyed with the idea that a group last term had used with their robotic flower.  However, this was not going to work because of how they ran the fishing line to the servos.  Then, I researched online another robotic flower.  This was the closest of the prototypes to work the way we wanted it to, however it required a large number of servos and an advanced experience with servos and flower petals. Both of which I do not have.  Then after some very stressful brainstorming, the idea of muscles came into my mind.  Although muscles are what we use everyday to make the most intricate and refined movements, they actually only can do two things:  contract and relax.  It is a multitude of variations of these two operations that make up our refined movements.  However, I did not need the flower to be as intricate as, say a human hand, but it did need to somehow contract and relax to make the petals open and close.  And, within an afternoon of much trial and error, I had my final prototype.


Computer Design:
In today’s society, it very “forward thinking” to go by The Three R’s: Recycle, Reduce & Reuse.   Taking this to heart, I was advised to use a petal design that was created from a previous studio.  However, this design was done in some foreign computer system.  This brought on a full day of software downloading, file conversion, and Laser-Printing testing.  I ended up downloading two new (and rather “heavy duty”) 3D modelling softwares, and converting multiple files between SketchUp, Adobe Illustrator CS5.1, Rhinoceros, uploading these files on the NuVu Cloud, and then checking them on the Laser Printer software.  Finally, after much struggle, I was able to get the design I wanted, in the formatted the Laser needed.  And although this was one of the most stressful NuVu days to-date,  it was incredibly educational.  I left NuVu that day, not only happy with my design, but having a much deeper understanding for the Laser Printer, its software, and the concept of 3D design software.


The final flower and base are constructed out of a material called, Lexan.  After the prototyping struggles, the actual construction of the final product was not very mind taxing.  It was more intense attention to great detail and waiting for the paint layers (1 Primer layer, 2-3 Pink layers, 1-2 Florescent layer[s]) to dry. The bright pink petals on Cklara were spray painted with a florescent pink base, then coated with misting layers of a transparent reflective spray paint. Next, the base; the base’s colour came about by accident actually.  It was originally constructed by just laser printing and a few strands of electrical tape, however, through construction it was found that it would look more “polished” if it was covered in a single layer of black electrical tape. Being that the electrical tape is black, the base does not have a day-glow effect, however it was lightly misted with florescent pink paint and followed up with a heavier layer of transparent reflective spray paint. Thus giving it its own glowing attributes.  


Remember, Safety First!


Julia Schwartz