Street Signs Reimagined for the Digital Age
Traffic signals don't get updated very often. Occasionally, cities test out new walk signals or add extra safety measures for pedestrian crosswalks, but the tri-color traffic light hasn’t changed much since it was invented in the early 1920s. Moscow-based designer Evgeny Arinin took it upon himself to reimagine what traffic signals and signs could look like in the 21st century, as WIRED reports. His traffic light system is sleek and simple, using large LED displays and colored arrows to keep people safe while on the road. For instance, a four-way intersection would be visualized using a cross-shaped light, while an intersection where one road dead-ends into another perpendicular street would be visualized by a T shape. If you can turn left but not right, a green arrow would curve to the left side of the cross, but the right side would be blocked off in red. The system is minimalist: There are only arrows and straight lines of light. As has been the case since the 19th century, red means stop and green means go. Arinin hopes the lack of visual clutter will make signs intuitive and easy to read. According to Margaret Rhodes at WIRED, now is the perfect time for cities to rethink street signals. As driverless cars become more prevalent, traffic signals need to become easy for cameras to read. While humans can read a traditional street sign as well as these LED arrows, a computer might find it easier to focus on the simplicity of Arinin’s shapes. The edges of the screens in Arinin’s designs also have raised bumper edges to prevent people from getting confused as to which sign in the intersection is directing them—if it’s not a sign for your lane, you won’t be able to read it. To redesign every street sign in one country, much less the world, would be an enormous expense, and there are plenty of regulatory hurdles involved in designing traffic intersections. While the concept is a finalist in this year’s Lexus Design Awards, the lights may not be coming to a town near you anytime soon.
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