Sydney launches 'world's first' e-paper traffic signs
Before self-driving cars hit the market, there is still some room to improve the car commute, according to electronic paper products provider Visionect. To improve the driving experience, apps already are announcing traffic updates and suggesting alternative, congestion-free routes to drivers, with some electronic road signs functioning in a similar way. To see road traffic information on the go, drivers in Sydney, Australia, can now rely on unique electronic paper signs optimized for road traffic that have just been launched by the Australian Road and Maritime Services, the company said in a recent announcement.
The RMS installed e-paper traffic signs on Sydney roads, representing the first use of electronic ink, a technology best known from e-book readers and smart watches, in traffic signage, according to Visionect.
An Internet of Things ecosystem of digital displays has been designed to overcome the usual visibility, powering and connectivity issues of traffic signalization.
To reliably display road information, wireless signs have been built that communicate over the cellular network and don't malfunction in the sun's heat or during a power outage. The traffic signage with highly optimized power consumption integrates displays from U.S. manufacturer E Ink and a platform for managing e-paper traffic signs developed by the European company Visionect.
The capital of New South Wales can now boast 100 percent self-sustainable traffic signs powered by solar energy, a natural resource that Australia has in abundance, Visionect said. This is possible because electronic paper technology is energy efficient, using very little power, with additional power optimizations making the e-paper signs even less dependent on traditional power sources.
"The hardware components are managed by server software programmed to 'wake up' the sign for certain pre-scheduled windows of time when the content on the sign will be changed using 3G technology," Rok Zalar, Visionect's head of product development, said in the announcement. "Outside of the 'waking' time, the traffic signs use no power."
To further optimize and protect the electronic traffic signs, detection of location coordinates and tamper attempts has been developed, enabling road services to react quickly should any of the signs be damaged for whatever reason. For better nighttime visibility, the signs' front panel light is triggered when it gets too dark for drivers to be able to read the signs.