Virginia Tech has developed a smart safety vest that alerts road workers before a collision occurs

Researchers at Virginia Tech are working on connected, wearable technology that’ll make it much safer to work roadside construction details. The team of engineers from the Virginia Tech Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has created a prototype safety vest that’ll both warn a driver about upcoming road work and alert a worker if a crash is about to occur.

Work on the InZoneAlert vest began in 2013 by Engineering professor Tom Martin, who has an interest in smart clothing. The vest uses GPS to track a worker’s movement and shortwave radio sensors that can communicate with the car’s connected vehicle technology. As a car approaches a worksite, these radio sensors can send the driver a warning about the work zone with instructions to slow down, change lanes and so on. This same connected technology can also determine if a car is driving recklessly, issuing a warning to the worker that a collision is about to occur. This instantaneous alert may save the worker’s life by allowing them to jump out of the way of the oncoming car. In tests of the vest, the alert system was successful 90 percent of the time.

When it was first created, the InZoneAlert vest was a back-pack sized device that was cumbersome to wear, but over time, technological advances have shrunk the radio communications tech down to the size of a cell phone, and there are even smaller gum pack-sized modules planned for future versions. Besides making the vest more comfortable to wear, the team has also been refining the alert system, so it gets the worker’s attention but is not jarring. It’s a challenge as roadside work is often loud and busy, which means workers can’t hear alerts very well and often miss the notifications because they are very focused on what they are doing. Researchers have proposed and are testing ideas that would embed an audible alert into hearing protection or tactile alerts that would vibrate the vest or compress a cuff of the clothing.

The InZoneAlert vest already is being tested at highway speeds both at the Virginia Smart Road in Blacksburg Virginia and the Interstate 64 corridor near Fairfax, Virginia. With additional funding, the vest could make its way to roadside use within five years. Besides work zone applications, the InZoneAlert vest also could be used by police, firefighters and other first responders who often work alongside busy roads when there is an automobile accident. Similar technology may be adapted for other collision avoidance situations, such as the detection and avoidance of animals in the road.

Emerging Tech

Michigan’s former transportation chief has some advice for wannabe smart cities

After 31 years as Michigan’s transportation director, Kirk Steudle has seen it all, particularly with smart city projects. He spoke with Digital Trends recently about what makes smart cities work, and offers advice along the way.

Every rumor about the PS5, including a new game from Luminous Productions

PlayStation 5 rumors have been circulating for over a year now but there's still plenty we don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the PS5, including rumors about its release, specs, and games.

Samsung patents show what Infinity-O display could look like on Galaxy S10

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

Born to run (forever): The most reliable cars you can buy right now

We all dread the thought of our car turning into a money pit, but choosing a dependable vehicle from the start can help us rack up countless care-free miles. Here, we've rounded up some of the most reliable cars available.
Emerging Tech

In a weighty decision, scientists prepare to redefine the kilogram

Metrologists are meeting at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles to vote on whether to redefine the kilogram as a constant that can be observed in the natural world.

See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Emerging Tech

Google’s balloon internet is coming to Kenya in 2019

In order to bring the internet to those who lack it, a company called Loon is launching balloons into the stratosphere. From more than 12 miles up, these balloons beam connectivity over a large area on the ground.
Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best tech gear and gadgetry that survived Shark Tank

The television show "Shark Tank" has churned out quite a few strange, interesting, and downright awesome products -- so we rounded up some of the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy!