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Redesigned Traffic Light Could Assist the Color Blind

Redesigned Traffic Light Could Assist the Color Blind

Jason Mick & Tracie McDaniel

June 22, 2010

Color blindness is a common optical disease that impacts many Americans.  Known medically as Daltonism or deuteranopia.  In the U.S., 7 percent of the male population (about 10.5 million people) and 0.4 percent of the female population (approximately 620,000 people) suffer from the most common form of color blindness, red-green color blindness. Globally, over 200 million people are believed to be colorblind. 

In some countries — such as Romania or Turkey — color blind people are forbidden to drive due to their inability to distinguish between colors on the traffic light.  In the U.S. they are free to drive, if they can memorize the order of the signals.  However, an even easier solution to helping the colorblind drive has now arrived.

The UNISignal has been created by designers Ji-youn KimSoon-young Yang, and Hwan-ju Jeont assist color-blind individuals in detecting traffic signals faster.  The new light has a triangular shape for the red (stop) light, a round shape for the yellow light, and a square shape for the green light.

By associating road directions with lit up shapes, the designers argue, the brain will be able to formulate an action, much faster than if you had to recall the order and then react.  For individuals with standard vision, the colors of the signal would be exactly the same, so there would be virtually no impact.

While the designers have not yet announced their official plan to market the light, it seems like it could draw significant interest, particularly in progressive urban areas, such as Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City.  Reaction to the new light has been largely positive.

In other news traffic light-related news, IBM is currently in the process of developing a traffic light that would turn off the motor of a car at a red traffic signal to conserve fuel.

_© 2009, DailyTech.

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