If you could express your feelings to drivers on the road – without taking your hands of the bars – what would you say?
This week, Ford released a prototype riding jacket that promises to let riders do just that. All through the magic of emojis and a few LED lights.
The problem? There are only six emojis. Only three actually display emotion while the remainder are more functional. On an average daily commute, there’s so many more … feelings … that I’d like to share with drivers beyond the options Ford offers.
Ford’s Prototype Emoji Jacket
The prototype Emoji Jacket is part of Ford Europe’s “Share the Road” campaign. Ford is trying to improve road conditions for cyclists by encouraging drivers to, well, share the road. The idea behind the jacket is “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.”
“Emojis have become a fundamental part of how we use language. Whether used to convey facial expressions, humour, or sarcasm, they have become integral to our ability to express ourselves and quickly,” says Dr. Neil Cohn, a PhD and assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Cognition ad Tilburg University in The Netherlands. “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.”
Six symbols are on offer. Three are emojis. Of the emoji alphabet, they are the most basic. Smiley face. Neutral face. Sad face. The remaining three are: left arrow, right arrow, hazard signal. Functional, but not very fun.
Cyclists would activate each of the six emojis Ford designed the jacket with, via a wireless remote on the handlebars.
We like Ford’s thinking here with the Emoji Jacket. There are just so many more emotions we’d like to express to drivers, and even other cyclists while out riding.
Here’s just a few suggestions we’d like to see added to the six available options, and how each of them could be useful.
Pukey Face Emoji
Use: Communicating your emphatic disgust as a driver’s actions.
Alternative use: Warning other morning commuters that some uni kid has puked in the bike lane after a big night out.
Kissy Face Emoji
Use: Not all drivers are bad. Sometimes connections can form across preferred modes of transportation. Using this emoji can help you tell that cute guy / lady driver that you noticed them noticing you (and giving you your full one metre of space on the road). If you don’t exchange numbers right then they will, at the very least, be less likely to cut you off when they turn right at the next light.
Alt. use: Antagonizing frustrated drivers. Does not necessarily improve road safety.
Cute Sad Face Emoji
Use: Communicating your emotional distress, and hurt feelings, that a driver would drive so recklessly around you.
Alt use: As a follow up to a failed attempt at creating a romantic connection using the Kissy Face Emoji.
Surprise / Blushing Emoji
Use: Best used in response to drivers who have used profane or obscene language to loudly communicate their displeasure at having to share the road with a cyclist.
Alt use: Warning other cyclists that you have farted in the bike lane or pace line.
Heart Eyes Emoji
Use: Expressing your appreciation for an especially considerate driver. Sometimes a smiley face just isn’t enough.