If you’re riding a bike at night, it’s pretty obvious that using a light is a good idea. But the same thing could be said even for people who are walking or running on the sidewalk: Every two hours, on average, a pedestrian is hit by a car in the U.S. However, it isn’t necessarily easy to convince someone to wear a reflective vest or carry a flashlight when they’re on foot. So designers in San Francisco came up with something people would actually want to wear: the Halo Belt.
First released on Kickstarter in 2012, the Halo Belt is now back for another round of funding with a new version that’s cheaper, brighter, and less than half the cost. The looks have stayed roughly the same. "Not only does safety need to have functionality, it needs to be able to connect to culture, lifestyle, and personality," says Vincent Pilot Ng, who founded the Halo Belt Company. "I find if we are able to bridge that gap, we can effectively present a tool that people will actually use."
The light, which can be worn across the shoulder like a messenger bag or draped around the waist like an actual belt, glows with an orange, blue, or green LED that can be set to flash or stay illuminated. "People’s first impression ... is usually that it reminds them of Tron," Ng says. "There is an instant connection and appeal."
For cyclists—who might not always show up to drivers even if they have lights—the belt offers a little extra visibility and some protection if the worst happens and they’re knocked off the bike and lying in the road. The belt also has a wide range of other users. "Kids wear it around their backpack while walking home, military personnel use it as an alternative to their reflective belts, and the Halo Belts have even found their way into the mining industry," Ng explains.
The new version can be charged with a micro-USB port, and uses different fiber optics for a brighter light than the original. It also uses reflective elastic—so it’s visible even if the LED light isn’t on—and it’s waterproof. Thanks to scaled-up production that lowered manufacturing costs, it’s available for a Kickstarter pledge of $37 (the original retail cost was $85). The improvements, Ng says, were made thanks to suggestions from the original Kickstarter supporters. He credits the platform with turning the belt from a small project into "a global movement of safety awareness."
Right now, there are about 20,000 of the belts in use around the world. "If a Halo Belt saves one life, all our hard work was worth it," Ng says.