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08 May 2020

Sand Glass is a concept traffic light which gives visual feedback as to just how long you're going to be stuck at a junction. Using the hourglass as a metaphor, Sand Glass lets its LED-pixels bleed through the lamp's waist one by one, so you can see just when the lights will change.

It's great, and if deployed would be diverting enough (for the first few weeks at least) to ease some of the boredom of waiting at the lights. I think the design is a little over-cautious, though, and could be simplified even further.

First, adding numbers seems redundant. Why bother with the whole hourglass schtick if you're just going to put a countdown up there too? The flowing virtual-sand is plenty clear already, and allows for adjustment of the time remaining, something hard to do inconspicuously with numbers.

The Sand Glass could also remove the amber light altogether. The amber lamp is a throwback to times when both lights at a crossroads would be controlled by the same switch: flipping both lights simultaneously would be dangerous, so the amber light provided a buffer in both directions. With the clear visual timing-signals in the Sand Glass, amber could finally be retired.

I love this concept, especially as it could presumably be made for the same cost as any other LED traffic light. It might even stop me jumping the lights on my bike.

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