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Hour Glass Street lights? Yes Please!

It'd make my commute a heck of a lot easier. 
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261 comments
 
The first real remake of the stop light in over a 100 years?  I'd go along with it.  I  think this design is genius!
 
I think this would just make more people run yellow lights.
 
Neat. I don't think they will ever change to this though. We need to keep the "stacked" traffic light because of the color blind (red is always on top, yellow always in the middle, and green always on the bottom).
 
+Justin Bond - Just means that any redesign of the stop light will also need to take that disability into consideration.  What immediately came to mind for me was the two sort of triangles that are formed on the sides in the middle.  You could have those triangles be blank (dark) when green, flashing white when yellow, solid white when red.
 
While the proposed benefits of this sound interesting, do they actually solve any real world problems? Change for change's sake is not useful.

People are used to the current system, and changing it brings a risk of real physical harm as people adjust. Benefits from a new system would have to be high to overcome that barrier.
 
+Gavin Bisesi - Great point.  If the concept behind this is that it will relieve stress, I would like to see some solid studies done to prove the following:

First, that the current system creates some inherent stress in and of itself.  We would need several baselines for participants.  Stress levels when not driving, stress levels while driving under various scenarios, and stress levels while waiting at the current red lights.  If stress levels at lights are higher than they are elsewhere, then we know there is indeed a problem to be solved.

Second, the studies would need to determine the effects of the new system on drivers' stress levels.  If the stress levels at lights are shown to be significantly lower, then they may be on to something.

I think additional studies would need to be done to determine the lights' effects on people running lights, the frequency of accidents, and overall drive times.
 
Perhaps if there was a glass pouring sound for the seeing impaired? 
 
The seeing impaired usually are not allowed to drive
 
+Jon Cilley - To be louder than the sound of traffic?  I think it would have to be loud enough to be considered noise pollution at that point.  Are there sounds-based mechanisms already in place somewhere?
 
+Gavin Bisesi hahaha. Oh man. You are correct sir. However, the rules are not as strict as they probably should be. I was thinking more about crosswalks. 
 
A lot of intersections in Cambridge have sound on the crosswalk lights
 
+Gavin Bisesi I was mostly saying it because a pouring sound would be ridiculous. :) 
 
+Gavin Bisesi - I see no reason that lights like these couldn't be used for crosswalks as well.  I'm not sure that changing the sound would be a good idea though.  Those that don't have impaired sight will be able to tell in other ways that the lights are different.  If you are blind, however, you will not have reason to suspect a change in the sound you are expecting.
 
it is very nice idea if we consider disability of color blind...
 
This is great idea, Hope we see it soon in practice.
 
I don't see how this works for color blind. Regular lights have red at the top and green at the bottom and color blind people know that. 

These lights rely on color to tell whether to go or stop. 
 
exelent idea, Dear Boris johnson  can we have this in London.
 
+Justin Bond +Joshua Jones good observation and suggestion regarding colorblindness... i like the idea that there could be a small symbol to act as a signifier for those with colorblindness. What about maintaining the current design while adding a string of LEDs to the side of the light fixture? As time passes the lights turn off from top to bottom signifying the amount of time left before the change. This would remain beneficial to those with colorblindness using the old design, while providing a signifier for time passing for everyone. +Thomas Tufts +Jon Cilley +Thomas Leuzinger +J. Alan Atherton +Cody Hurst 
 
Nice idea.... everybody will ge it right ;)
 
That Is a great Idea! It is good cuz the idiots who dont know That green means go they will know now! I hope!
 
We had a problem in my town a few years back when we switched to led stop lights they work great in warm weather. But they do not produce enough heat to melt the snow the accumulates on them. They were basically useless in the winter time
 
I think it would make people pay an inordinate amount of attention to the light instead of their surroundings.
 
exactly what anothony said.
i think it would cause alot more accidents too
especially when it starting off with a red light
 
You have a point there... but a traffic light will always a traffic light, right?
 
That will never happen... every light will be a drag race!
Eric T
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Floor it when it shows a second left. Sounds dangerous.
 
Ever heard of the old saying ... K.I.S.S  (Keep it simpl Stupid) .. no need to complicate things more! The traffic lights work fine now... Technology has it's benefits but it also has flaws. The more features you add to something the more problems you'll have.. .. Maybe they can just keep the timer/hour glass on just the YELLOW only?
 
how to know the difference between ready to go or warning to stop?
 
thats if they could put down the phone for a while and drive.
 
It looks like a wine glass when i'ts dripping down lol
 
stumbleupon 3 years ago... yet still cool enough to +1
 
hahahahahaha! could take it that it's time for a drink!
 
the red light is a good idea, apparently S. Korea does something similar.  The yellow lights and green lights will only cause people to speed up when they start to get too low.
 
Ah, but this design fails for the colorblind.  With the current design, they can use the position of the light that's glowing.  And there are more colorblind people than you think...
 
I wonder if this can be combined with the germans yellow on each side of red concept
 
Oh yeah, colorblind, I forgot about that. But it's a cool idea/concept
 
If there were some indicator on the side that could work. 
 
If there was perhaps a letter in the middle of the hourglass (such as R, Y or G) then people who are colour blind know when to go etc.
 
The green one looks like a wine glass
 
This would be great but we not see it in my life time.
 
That is very cool, clean and simple.
 
similar idea exists in bombay india. they have a 60 sec. countdown.
 
Yes and the shut engines off then while waiting for the countdown. In thailand too!
 
It would cause more accidents because people would see the red almost running out and hit the gas.
 
Hour Glass Street lights. nice idea
m white
 
Hopefully this will not ne widespread implemented, theres drivers already sitting at the green light waiting for a particular shade of green before they drive!!
 
There are already similar things in the world. Here there are timers on the crosswalk signs and when they reach zero the light changes to yellow, then a few seconds later to red. At these intersections I notice a lot more people actually slow down to stop when the countdown is almost over. No need to reinvent the wheel here I'd say.
 
They use this type of light in Suzhou China. With millions of cars on the road and impatient drivers this light works very well. People obey them better the we do. People are ready to go when light changes. Infact many lights have count down for all colors. I wish we had it here in the USA. As for the color blind you go when the people next to go and stop when the traffic going the other way is crossing the road.
 
Is there a video on how this works its a little hard picturing this?
 
The crosswalk lights in downtown Minneapolis have all been updated to have countdown timers. It's really nice.
 
Pros: It would let people know how much time left before it changes.
         People would know when is turning red and not go on red.
         People that text on red lights would know how much time they
         got. (Not saying that is a good thing but its annoying waiting on
         people to finish their text)
         It would keep people calm knowing how much they gotta wait.
Cons: People would floor it before it even turns green.
         People would go on yellow more frequently.
         People would honk at you as soon as there is one last grain of
         red sand.
         Not good for color blind
         Less paying attention to surroundings.
         More people getting of their cars to get something from the
         the trunk.
         (happens a lot in Florida and sadly is not only the tourists)

Overall great idea but is not gonna work because well people think only about themselves. So better sticking to the original traffic light.
 
To some it will force them to focus on the traffic light and not their smartphone. 
 
What about those color blind? 
 
the problem is, when people see green light / yellow light is ending, they speed up!! 
 
Unfortunately the current trigger system we use today is more efficient. 
 
Why not just go all the way and make the traffic lights the same as the staging lights at drag strips; you'll get the same results.  
 
or better +John Blair how about make yellow lights the same as yellow flags in Formula 1, lower speeds and no passing
 
This would make me want to race, so...bad idea LOL
Translate
 
I like it but it isnt going to happen, was reading today how the police and private companies are messing with the lights to get more people to run red lights. Unsafe roads makes people money
 
Good idea.....i would be happy to see them in india..
 
Always thought the street light is an opportunity for innovation. This is a bit of a dramatic change. Not to mention would need to change out the lights now. What about a add on vertical progress bar that can be added to existing lights?
 
It kind of looks like "Go! Have a glass of wine!"
 
+Mike LeBrun +eric tollison offset the time changes and you'll reduce the risks of drag race suicide... when in Eugene OR I saw they did this. +Edward Rodriguez I definitely have long lights that literally take 5 min or more in Reno. I guess the sensors are not always accurate... seeing the time count down would help my stress level at many intersections... its not always the stress at the time but later when thinking of my fastest route.
 
Having a progress report on how long you've been at a painful light makes sense. 
 
As others have said, lights in various cities already have timers. Recently, I saw countdown timers on green lights in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.
 
You left off the "sponsored by" graphic that would play in the voids. This next 3 and half minutes,  "...is brought to you by...Nike."
 
Unfortunately this would be a nightmare for anyone who's color blind. Also I can just imagine people zooming through yellows even more often than they already do. Definitely a cool concept, though.
 
Yea the concert is amazing, but probably pretty difficult to implement.
 
In my country they put timers counting seconds left till the light changes
 
The lamps in traffic lights produce heat meaning they are inefficient. It also means they melt snow that falls on them. Leave the design alone. 
 
Best idea ever. Might even help me be more patient...
 
with LEDs being more energy efficient wouldnt it be better in the long run? Perhaps even have solar panels on the other sides?
 
It might keep me from having to honk at the inattentive driver waiting at a stop light.  LOL
 
Wow! that's a great idea!  though i doubt the government (or any government for that matter) would seriously support it, but still an amazing idea!
 
This is a very neat idea for refreshing the traffic light, though with issues tho be thought through.

I actually think the goal behind this idea is better served with a different approach.

I think that better throughout is the answer, and its more easily achievable. How many times have you been waiting when no other traffic is present? Better I say to solve the timing issue first through better sensing and response.

Just eliminate the following:
Waiting with no other traffic
Losing a slot in the cycle because an emergency vehicle messed priority
Lights turning red just before traffic arrives

By working out these issues we would improve drive quality and reduce fuel consumption.

Just think about it next time you drive. We can solve major networking issues in comp sci. Why not apply that knowledge to our most used network? The roads.
 
Everyone will "Go" on yellow.  Stop signs cost less.
 
I read something similar a month or two ago. The red & yellow timer had positive results in testing. However, watching the green light slowly tick away convinced more people to slam the gas than intended LoL....
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That's very creative.
 
Not a good idea. Some people would not slow down on a few pixels left of a red hourglass and some would speed up on the few pixels left of a yellow hourglass.
If they want to change something on the roads then limit every car to the speed limit of that country. That would have a much more positive effect on driving.

 
This would not work for people with color blindness
 
Would be too confusing for me while I'm driving in my Mercades
 
How much more electricity will this use throughout America?
Ed Clem
 
This looks fantastic!
 
Fantastic idea. I have no idea how traffic management tech is so out of date.. The so called 'sensor' systems seem to still be based on crude 1980's single coil induction technology, then to solve congestion they spend millions building highways/freeways..
 
More running the red and jumping the green. No thanks.
 
Why all the hating? I personally think that this is a great idea
 
It is abeautifull slick desing.and in many ways practical too.Ofcourse they can not stack on top off esch other,have to be instaled next to each other,& sligtly larger in size,which is good drivers can see them better as far as mechanic off installing them,I,am sure Cal Trans can find the way,they get paid good money to this sort of work.Now the stress level of it,is somewhat fuzzy,some people look at the hourly glass ,get more stressed,especialy when it reminds them off boiling eggs.some people like their eggs soft boiled,some hard boilled,you get my point.
 
Timed red lights work, timed green lights do not. The accident rate would go sky high if people constantly floored it around the one second mark on a green light. 
 
You don't have to stack them. '
Just change the color.
 
Some learning curves are almost acute. Good luck.
 
I like how the go looks like a glass of wine. heh
 
Thats too good of an idea.. they wont do it.
 
Im a colorblind person and I know I cant stand on this :s
 
This is an idiotic design that fails to take color blindness into consideration, something existing signals are able to work with since the leftmost or topmost is always the most restrictive aspect.
 
re: Colour blindness - how would this differ to the current system?

I think this has merit, but like current lights I see a big problem being sun glare. How will the colours be visible if the sun is directly hitting the face of the lights? 
Morning and afternoon/evening sun glare could wreak havoc with this light design (unless sun shade boxes are build around the lights)
 
here they simply put colour coded timers on top of the regular trafic light. works nicely...
 
+Laneth Sffarlenn: Color blind people can still tell which signal aspect is lit with the existing signals.  The top most light or the leftmost light on horizontally-mounted signals is always the most restrictive aspect (or, for idiots: top/left is red) as I previously mentioned.
 
They should have a holographic traffic cop already, it could be 15 tall ala Tupac, have 4 arms blow whistles hold up its hand to stop and wave you through to go, maybe even use famous people from the past like George Washinton, Einstein or even Hitler or other political leaders
 
I'd take the countdown timer. :)
 
but its difficult to measure from a distance unless its real large size, believe me its necessary to measure from a distance to adjust speed accordingly..
 
maybe we need that here at the Philippines to avoid heavy traffic...♫♪♫♪♪
John B
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I for one would love to see what happens on those "fast" change lights. This is also.great for those "stale" green lights, no more wondering how long you have to sit at the red light while waiting for the light to change when there is no traffic.
 
I might be misinterpreting the graphic, but it looks like they want to have orange both in the change from "go" to "stop" (green to red) as well as from "stop" to "go" (red to green) 
 
Damn...submitted before done. Anyway, having the go/stop transition state be the same as the stop/go transition state (both orange with a countdown timer) is a Bad Idea.

Scenario:
Driver is on a low traffic road but coming up to crossing a busy road. There are no other cars going the driver's way or oncoming, so no cars at the intersection in the driver's direction or the opposite direction, but a few cars moving along the intersecting road. Driver doesn't pay attention to the lights approaching the intersection, then sees there's 3 seconds left on yellow as he approaches the intersection. From habit, driver sees yellow and hits the gas to make the light. Unfortunately for the driver, the light was signaling a change from "stop" to "go", not "go" to "stop". So, driver enters the intersection at high speed while he's still supposed to be stopped at the light. Other drivers on the intersecting street are still flowing through the intersection on their yellow (signaling "go" to "stop" for them), so BAM, we have a collision.

Aside from just that, having the transition states be the same means that when I see a yellow light, it can now mean two different things and I have to figure out which, then act accordingly. This may seem fairly simple, but just think what happens when you approach a yellow light now. You already have to discern whether it makes more sense to keep going or to hit the brakes. This is all sub-second processing. Now we're throwing another variable into the mix? Should the drivers be paying enough attention to know which of the transition states we're in (go/stop or stop/go)? Sure. Will that always happen? I'm betting not.

So, that particular feature is a novel idea to try to reduce frustration and give nice visual cues, but the cost/benefit on it is way off. The cues given by the hourglass figure is already clue enough for the stop/go (red/green) transition. The extra yellow is superfluous and introduces more risk for negligible reward.

Other than that, the concerns already raised on colour blindness and such make sense and the hybrid systems (current light layout but with dedicated timer strip or counter) seem like solid options that don't suffer from the concerns already raised in the comments. 
 
I think under sunlight it will not be easy to recognize the correct color ... as sometimes under sunlight we try to focus on which part is lighted on and which is off of the traffic light .. but with this one i think all would be the same .. could be !!!
 
It's a great idea. Keeps the drivers focused on the lights.
I've seen street lights with numbers count downwards, but those were for the walking lights in Toronto. But still I like this idea.
 
The concept is pretty cool, but as mentioned earlier it's not suitable for color-blind people. In my country they just installed a count down on top of the three stacked colors.. works pretty well, and you see the whole time left (some lights start counting from 90...)
 
Whoa.. seems like we're all going back to history to learn time management. Interesting.
 
thats amazing, also saves fuel without knowing the timings in signals
 
I think it would be a greater  thing than anyone could ever imagine.Get it! Greater than or less than who knows?
'
 
I guess if you're colorblind you're no longer allowed to drive?
 
An hour glass that indicates waiting time, it'll never happen, some huge electronics manufacturer probably already has a broad all-encompassing patient on it 
 
Now that's a great remake of the traffic light.
 
My gosh, try English someday.  I don't know what language this is.
 
English arrogance has made the Queen stay forever. Never ever inventive.
 
this is the most brilliant traffic light I have ever heard of. 
 
I like the idea but it have u thought about people who are colour blind, they know when to stop and go by the position of the light not it's colour.On this diagram the 'wait' and 'go' symbols would look the same to someone who is colour blind.
 
I like it new thinking
 
How would it work for blind drivers?
 
Great for drag racing :)
 
very creative street light design.
 
I don't think it's a great idea - it looks nice but doesn't really solve a problem. We don't need extra information about how long the light will take to change. Will it get more traffic through the junction? No. It's not 'interactive' as there's no extra input from the user.
Patience is a virtue folks! Abandon the ways of the iPhone generation ;)
 
Timer on green may provoke drivers to step on the gas when it's going to switch. But the concept is indeed interesting
 
I'm afraid the traffic lights won't be able to be seen when far away...
 
Looks cool, but appears more expensive than traditional light.  It takes a long time to educate the average motorist on any change.
 
A feature I'd like to see would be a sensor that would blast a train horn at anyone sitting more than 3 seconds after the light turns green.
 
I like this idea, but it would have to be modified to take into account left-only turn signals or areas where flashing red/yellow lights are needed.
 
Let the drag racing begin.
 
People already floor it when there's a second left on yellow. How? Cuz a yellow light only stays yellow for one second for each 10mph the speed limit is on that road. This seems like a neat idea but the only thing it changes is cosmetic. They look nicer than stacked circles like we have now.
 
Nice idea, but won't work. People learn how long a yellow light is and begin to ignore the yellow. That is why most lights have around two seconds (or more) of all red. If people see how long the red is, they'll start to ignore that also.
 
I think your nuts 1 hole hour on the other side you'd be late for work
dude.
 
And watch motorists think its ridge racer and burnout from the go signal...
 
Almost like Vietnam but #s instead 
Ping He
 
"screw you, red-green color blind!" says the new hour glass light
 
I love this rethinking!!! But color-blind folks ... Would be toast! What about different symbols for the three indications. The timer would help gas mileage for me as I could coast up to a red light that has lots of time left, as long as it was clearly visible. More info can be a good thing!
 
I was at an intersection and the cross walk had a timer counting down it was kind of nice knowing when the light was going to change.
 
Bad idea. Kids drive to fast and r always in a hurry. They would time these lights and probably only be "close enough" to go thru them. U got one kid timing a green light and another tryin to make a red. Boom, car accident in the middle.
 
Its nice to see people having a civil debate on the internet! Yes!!! #internetmaturity 
greg f.
 
Yea, preparing for quick take off
 
That's not a good idea. At all. There is a few points why this shouldn't appear on the streets:
1. Doesn't abide by the K.I.S.S rule, complex design
2. Problems for color-blind
3. What about turn-in-one-direction-only lanes? At regular traffic light, you simply draw an arrow. Putting an arrow under or above the traffic light is a bad idea (would require additional light in the night, might make drivers confused).
http://www.stopandgo.org/gallery/trafficsigns/images/IMG_0340C.jpg

4. When you take a single glance at the countdown at regular traffic lights, you see exact amount of time left. When you take a single glance at this traffic light, it tells you ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Half-filled hourglass, and you don't know the rate of flowing. This means zero or negative improvement from existing solutions.
5. Looks retarded, IMO.
6. We already have a better idea, see this: http://www.neatorama.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/traffic-light-progress-bar-500x371.jpg


This suggestion is like an iProduct: Eyecandy, but otheriwse almost completely useless. And would cost more than regular traffic light, too.
 
Very cool ,but you'd get people waiting at lights to take photo to post on google plus ;-)
 
could be detrimental to color blind drivers, they would no longer be able to distinguish between red and green.
 
+Stephen Cass I don't see the point in yellow before green, like everyone has been saying "Keep it Simple", its go, prepare to stop, stop and back to go, why add an extra step in there?
 
+Ted Reznor , the yellow stand for caution. As in "Hey dumbass, I'm about to change so prepare to stop". That is the reason. On the other hand, going from red to yellow is pointless.
 
You should come visit my country and see what are traffic lights really mean !!!!
 
+Tod Anderson He's talking about yellow before green.
+Ted Reznor  This phase aids drivers of cars with manual gearboxes and gives time for the driver to switch into first gear during the short phase, as well as drivers of vehicles that may have been amber-trapped whilst turning right a chance to clear the intersection in more safety. It also informs drivers who may be approaching the intersection at speed that a green light is imminent, so they may proceed through the junction without having to stop (or, with another of a lead distance, even having to slow), reducing the potential annoyance (and safety risk) of braking sharply to a halt only to have the green light appear immediately after.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic-light_signalling_and_operation#Change_from_red_to_green

It is also useful for releasing handbrake before green turns on, turning engine back on (In some countries, it's advisable to turn engine off at red to reduce pollution, while at longer waits (example: in front of Karawankentunnel, where you can wait 30min for green when maintenance is going on) it's even obligatory to turn your engine off.

There is also an interesting argument I've heard from another user:

"In Italy it goes straight from Red to Green and since I just returned from there I can tell you it's quite annoying. It's easier for the eye to register both Red and Yellow turned on, than to register the movement from Red straight to Green. You lose the feeling of how long the Green was already on and it actually happened to me that drivers behind me were beeping. The effect being, I kept my eyes focused on the lights from there on and I don't think that's a good practice"

Do you need more?
 
Just make sure it is colorblind proof please!!
 
yea +Jon Cilley , but all and alll its a good idea . but the money to change to them ? if the Gov. would be good enough do to do that they could  install permanant "stop sicks" in places that might be "high risk" areas to prevent high speed chases or accidents . ah fuck . there i go again , i'm sorry .
 
Its a great idea, but i doubt it would ever be used, the cost of changing the country / worlds traffic signals would be astronomical.
If the current system aint broke, and is accepted worldwide then why change it.
But all the negatives said, I still think its a really great idea.
 
I think this is a horrible idea...
Every color has its flaws as it gets near zero...
Green...People would speed up to go through the green
Yellow...People would go through a yellow light when they could have stopped.(illegal)
red... people would start to go before it is green.

Sometimes in transportation it is best that people don't know everything.
 
+Hunter Blackburn If waiting at a light stresses somebody out they should not be driving... Or they should be ready 15 minutes earlier... Turn up the tunes, chillax, play some steering wheel drums, sing or as a last resort they can pick their nose... :-)
 
What about red/green blind people (about 5%!)? Right now, they know that top light means Stop and bottom light Go.
The design is probably adjustable to that; but as shown it's an issue.
 
Here's a beautiful example of a psychological solution deployed in Korea. Red traffic lights have a countdown delay. It's proven to reduce the accident rate in experiments. Why? Because road rage, impatience and general irritation are massively reduced when you can actually see the time you have to wait. In China, not really understanding the principle behind this, they applied the same principle to green traffic lights. (Laughter) Which isn't a great idea. You're 200 yards away, you realize you've got five seconds to go, you floor it.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/rory_sutherland_perspective_is_everything.html

8:48
 
Countdown timers work as well  along with the normal light.  Many countries have had them for years. In Thailand some lights are 4 minutes and many cars shut their engines off while they wait.
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