The ViBus wristband in action
A UK-based silicone and organic rubber products specialist has helped transform a bright idea into a practical and potentially life-changing solution for bus passengers with visual or hearing impairments.
Primasil Silicones, based in Herefordshire, worked with on-bus technology specialist, Mobile Onboard, on a new project to create the proof-of-concept prototypes of ViBus, a wristband device, which vibrates and flashes to tell visually or hearing impaired passengers when their stop is approaching.
The principle behind the wristband is ingeniously simple - a passenger requiring assistance tells the driver his or her destination before the driver uses an app to input the details. Then, via WiFi and Bluetooth connection, a signal is sent to the device on the passenger’s wrist to make it vibrate and flash at the right time for departure from the bus.
Although the concept is simple, to make the wristband practical and commercially viable Primasil says it had to meet “challenging timescales and budget constraints”, as well as design imperatives ensuring the band is discreet, compact, a good fit, and ergonomically easy to put on and remove. It was also essential that the silicone membrane should be sufficiently transparent to transmit the device’s LED lights.
Mobile Onboard is skilled at rapid, cost-effective and innovative prototyping, but this was its first experience of working with a technical rubber specialist.
“This is the first time we have used our rapid prototyping facilities for a project with silicone rubber as a key design element,” explained the company’s Director, Corbin Adler.
“ViBus has tremendous scope for upgrading the many mid-life buses on our roads which don’t have modern communication systems, and so empowering visually and hearing impaired people to travel independently and confidently,” he continued.
“The proof of concept prototype has now been successfully trialled in Nottingham and next steps include a few minor adaptations and commercial considerations under the remit of our partners Transport Systems Catapult, alongside the Department of Transport.”
“A whole new world of opportunity”
Commenting on the collaboration, Primasil’s Managing Director, Steve Wheeler, added: “As Mobile Onboard has discovered, silicone rubber offers businesses a whole new world of opportunity.
“We have been delighted to work with Mobile Onboard on such a worthwhile project and we look forward to seeing how this device makes a difference to people’s lives.”