While rakish American Ryan Jansen may have been the crowd favorite at last night’s James Dyson Awards festivities in New York City, the top honors in the international competition went to two designs that address bike safety. First prize went to London-based design student Michael Chen for his “Reactiv jacket” (modeled above), a Nintendo Wii-inspired way for urban cyclists to signal their intentions to others on the road. Using something called an accelerometer, the jacket senses movement and adjusts its LED lights accordingly: the back lights up green when accelerating, red when braking. A built-in ’tilt switch’ makes LEDs in the arm flash amber when the wearer lifts their arm to indicate a turn. Chen couldn’t make it to last night’s reception, but Dyson noted how the judges (Dyson, Tama Art University professor Tatsuya Wada, Focus magazine editor Mauro Gaffo, and Metropolis‘ Paul Makovsky) were impressed by the simplicity and effectiveness of the Reactiv jacket. “It’s a great safety device and a great prototype that will save lots of lives,” added Dyson.
Another cycling innovation was named runner-up. The single-handed bike brake lever was designed by a team of engineering students from the University of Guelph in Canada. Designed with the physically disabled in mind, it incorporates both brake levers onto one handlebar. “And there’s a hidden benefit to this design,” said Dyson when presenting the award to design team leader Micha Wallace. “When you pull both front brakes at once, you prevent the possibility of flying over the handlebars.”
Learn more about the winning designs and all 12 James Dyson Award finalists here.