Street Charge Pensa As our jaws hit the floor watching this video of the world’s most advanced street sign, we realized that we’ve seen a lot of innovation in one area that some may consider a little… pedestrian.

Some people may look at a road or a street sign and say, “how could it get any better than this?”. Thankfully, other more inventive minds have been busy engineering ways to improve these staples of modern life.

We’ve covered a few brilliant curbside innovations in the past and hunted down a few more for this piece. Below you’ll find seven amazing innovations that (we hope) will be coming to a street near you soon.

Virtual traffic lights

virtual traffic lights Congestion plagues cities across the globe, but scientists are working on ways to alleviate traffic problems using sophisticated tech and big data. A Ozan Tonguz, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, believes the solution to congestion involves completely removing traditional traffic lights from city streets.

“Tonguz and colleagues are designing a road-efficiency system, based on emerging-vehicle-to-vehicle technology, called Virtual Traffic Lights,” explains the Atlantic Cities. “The idea is to shift traffic control from fixed street signals to the moving cars themselves. The result, says Tonguz, is an optimized traffic flow that should greatly reduce city congestion.” Check out our coverage of the imaginative system here!

Glow in the dark highways

Smart Highway

Taking the treachery out of winter driving one highway at a time, Dutch company Studio Roosegaarde has created a “photo-luminising” powder that will replace road markings. The powder builds up energy from the sun during the day, allowing it to provide 10 hours of glow during the night. We took a shine to this concept, dubbed “The Smart Highway,” back in November. Read more about it here!

Talking street signs

When Momo Miyazaki and Andrew Spitz moved to Denmark, they both had difficulty making sense of the street signs. Kvaesthusgade is admittedly a major mouthful, if you’re even brave enough to attempt to pronounce it. To help puzzled tourists and non-Danish speakers wrap their lips around the words, they devised an interactive installation in Copenhagen called WTPh? (What the Phonics). The project consists of modified street signs in popular tourist areas that play the sound of a native Danish speaker saying the street name. Helpful? You bet! Amsterdam, please consider implementing this next.

Gadget charging street signs

This one comes to us via Fast Company Design. Here’s what they had to say about “Street Charge”: “Street Charge is what design studio PENSA calls an “urban intervention.” It’s a solar-powered rest stop for the New Aesthetic, a place for your phone to sit dedicated to squeezing in a 5-minute email check without killing that last remaining sparks inside your smartphone battery.” Too cool!

Street Pong crosswalk game

Talk about gamification! Typically people will risk their lives to avoid waiting at crosswalks (we’re looking at you, jay-walkers), but StreetPong will make waiting your turn to cross the street the highlight of your day.

Why did the pedestrian cross the road? He didn’t. He was too busy playing StreetPong. Let’s hope the German interactive design students who created the game go into business and take this thing global — we’re bored over here!

LED Intelligent Street Light


The VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland has developed a street light that consumes significantly less energy through the use of LEDs and the introduction of a dimming function. The street lights have been tested in Finland, where VTT collected user experiences.

To adjust the level of light emitted, the street light is equipped with sensors that detect natural light, environmental conditions and the number of pedestrians on the street. Unfortunately, the photo above is not the real deal. Sorry y’all, but as this is a recently unveiled system, we’ll definitely be covering it again soon!

Traffic light countdown

This one is an oldie but a goodie. While Ozan Tonguz’s dream of a world full of virtual traffic lights may not be too far away, the Chinese government has already introduced a innovative way to reduce traffic accidents at intersections. China’s solution consists of a rectangular strip of energy-efficient LEDs that switches between the three colors.

“The strip is fully illuminated at the start of each signal, then shrinks in size to show how much time is left before the color changes,” design writer Alice Rawsthorn told “It shrinks down toward the bottom of the panel on green, and up toward the top on red. This helps color-blind motorists… and as drivers can guess how long each signal will last, they’re less likely to accelerate or brake at the wrong moment.” Why haven’t these been introduced in North America yet?

Developments featured in this article

More Like This

Facebook Chatter