Cardinal is a smart navigation gloves “for life in the fast lane on two wheels.” Designed by second-year students Evie Cheung, Ellen Rose, Antya Waegemann, and Yangying Ye as part of their Product, Brand, and Experience class, the gloves are specifically designed with the female urban motorcyclist in mind. “They provide an easy and safe navigation system for women who don’t want to compromise on style and protection,” offers the team. “Users can sync their Cardinal gloves to Google Maps or Waze with the built-in Bluetooth, and the OLED screen in the glove can then provide a visual signal—indicating where riders need to turn—while a progress bar indicates distance from the turn.
Hands are generally the first part of the body to hit the ground during an accident.
Female motorcycle riders are a fast growing yet greatly underserved population. Women riders represent 14% of the 6.7 million motorcycle registrations in the United States, and that number is likely to continue to grow. “We often think of motorcycle riders as retirees with white goatees riding Harley cruisers,” the designers argue, “but in fact, there is a large population of motorcycle riders who are young, cool and female.
Despite this trend, the availability of stylish and protective riding clothing and gear for women is lacking. In fact, many women riders who we spoke with complained that with a lack of proper protective gear for women, they had resorted to buying products made for men.”
Apart from the bike itself, helmets and gloves are the most essential gear for riders. Gloves protect hands against wind, rain, sun and blisters from gripping the throttle, and more importantly, they protect in the case of a crash or fall. Hands are generally the first part of the body to hit the ground during an accident. Cardinal gloves are designed for protection, style and fit, but they also include a navigation system that allows women to safely and easily navigate their route without distractions.
“Through over a dozen in-person and phone interviews with female riders, countless hours spent online researching riding risks and injury statistics, penetrating female rider forums and blogs, and soaking up product listings and reviews, we gained a platform for understanding and empathizing with female riders. The research first fueled an exploration into stylish and protective riding jeans, then pivoted into stylish external knee armor, then pivoting again, finally landing on stylish and protective gloves with a navigation system.” (Research sources included interviews with women who ride, Instagram accounts, Reddit feeds, Facebook rider groups, customer product reviews and store research at Jane Motorcycles in Williamsburg, New York, and Motorgrrl in Greenpoint, New York.)
“Validating the concept and designing functionality of the glove (the hardware and UX of the navigation systems) were our first priorities. Through a team brainstorming and working session, we formulated several variations of where the navigation would be placed on the glove, what the display would look like, and how it would operate. We each created an animated sketch and a quick glove prototype after that discussion, and those prototypes allowed us to get further feedback from riders.”
To make Cardinal even more real, the team created a brand style guide that captures the attitude of the product and the community that inspired it. As with all companies—from start ups to established industry giants—Cardinal has guidelines for its tone of voice, personality, brand values, logo, color palette, typography and graphic iconography. The guidelines can be seen in action in our NARS campaign, which promotes the launch of our signature and very badass "Cardinal Red" lip color.