For runners who go out after dark, vehicles, cars, and even cyclists are an ever present danger. In fact, more than 100,000 runners are hit by vehiclists each year, and most often, the only cause is that the driver could not see them. While reflective vests are popular, they don’t always do the job, especially not if the driver is turning a corner or changing lanes instead of approaching the runner head on. Now, a new concept design by Jeffery S. Engelhardt. could change that. The suit, which is known as the NR4 Illuminated Running suit protects the runner while making them highly visible to anyone who happens to be driving near the runner.
Illuminated Running Apparel
The NR4 looks like something straight out of the film Tron, and in fact, that’s what it could have been designed after. The NR4 features a black wetsuit look with illuminated blue lines that would glow wildly in the dark. The lines cover the runners back and chest, making him or her highly visible to any oncoming cars. In fact, the darker it is, the more the blue lines would stand out, even if the driver couldn’t see the entire runner. While a blue outline of a runner might certainly scare a few people, it would probably save more than a few lives.
How it Works
The illuminated running suit designed by Engelhardt features soft and flexible electro luminescent wires. These are known as EL wires, and are suitable for this purpose because they can flex and bend with the motions of the runner without being damaged. A rechargeable battery is positioned in the center of the shoulders on the back of the suit to balance it’s weight, and it charged using a traditional wall socket (no plugging it into your computer). The design uses magnetic contacts to connect a standard wall socket, and allow the suit to charge while not in use. Magnetic connects are actually currently available and already in use in various industries.
The design would also have a GPS unit built in to perform analysis of speed, running time, number of miles ran, and perhaps even an estimate of burned calories based on heart rate, perspiration, and speed. This means that while offering an extra level of safety to runners, it would also provide a service that would likely be more accurate than the apps and pedometers currently available today.
Unfortunately the NR4 is not currently in production, but supposedly there is a working prototype. Therefore, the only step needed to get this running suit to shelves is a backer, and a producer. Despite this, you probably won’t see it anytime soon. While wearable exercise technology is a fast growing industry, most are focused on statistics and data gear, rather than lifesavers like an illuminated running suit.
What do you think? Should they make the NR4? Would you wear it? Currently your only alternatives as a runner is to either make your own Tron suit using glow in the dark LEDs, or to wear a standard reflective vest which offers considerably less protection and light.