In a nutshell: Cycling on roads can be a dangerous activity, with fatalities a sadly common occurrence. To try and improve rider safety, Ford has come up with a concept jacket that displays emoji to help cyclists "better communicate" with drivers.
The jacket, created in partnership with Designworks, is part of Ford's "share the road" campaign, which aims to improve safety for all road users, be they on four wheels or two. The back of the jacket has an LED mesh panel, which is linked to a wireless remote attached to the handlebars.
The jacket can display three emoji: happy face, angry face, and neutral face. It also shows left and right arrows that can be used to indicate which way the bike is turning. There's even a hazard symbol that can be displayed.
While arrows and hazard symbols will be useful for cyclists, you might wonder about the emoji. Dr. Neil Cohn, an expert in the area of emoji, said: "Emojis have become a fundamental part of how we use language. Whether used to convey facial expressions, humor, or sarcasm, they have become integral to our ability to express ourselves and quickly. This jacket created in partnership with Ford Share the Road allows riders to express their feelings and creates an important emotional link between them and other road users."
Ford Europe added that the jacket was designed "to show how tensions could be eased by enabling riders to more easily and more clearly show drivers what their intentions are---and how they are feeling."
The jacket is just a proof-of-concept, so you might never see one on the roads. But with cyclist deaths on the increase in the US and 2,000 killed every year in Europe, anything that might help reduce these fatalities would be welcome.
In other emoji news, we recently heard that the icons could start appearing on license plates in the US.