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Glare is a longboard skateboard brand designed for the urban commuter. The core technology is the Uplight—a long-wavelength beam of light projected upward onto the rider which increases nighttime visibility and thereby reduces the risk of collision with cars.

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Designed by second-year students Qixuan Wang, Eugenia Ramos, Micah Lynn, and André Orta, the project brief was “to identify a subculture, design a product to suit a need or opportunity within that community, and then finally design a brand around that product.”

 

Our solution was to reflect light off of riders themselves, using the rider’s own body as an eye-level, indirectly-lit object to draw attention from drivers.

 

User research was pivotal: “Early on, we discovered a subculture of longboard skateboarders existing within the larger community of skateboarding. Longboarding itself houses many categories, but we found that longboarding as a tool for commuting was the most intriguing due to its close affiliation with urban transit,” offers the team. “After conducting both ethnographic and quantitative research, we saw an opportunity to intervene in the common and dangerous occurrence of longboarders being hit by cars.

Our solution, the uplighting board, is a riff off of the safety lights commonly seen on cyclists and sometimes runners. Our research indicated that culturally, longboarders seldom wear safety gear. Additionally, we found that personal style & expression were paramount, and that it would be difficult to persuade riders to buy and use wearable safety gear like helmets, pads, and hi-visibility garments. We also noticed that deck-mounted lights were commonly used, but too low to the ground to be seen by drivers.”  

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Considering these factors, the designers’ solution was to reflect light off of riders themselves, using the rider’s own body as an eye-level, indirectly-lit object to draw attention from drivers.” We emphasized this effect by using red light, which is the most visible color in darkness due to its long wavelength and a widely recognized safety color.” 

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Our research indicated that culturally, longboarders seldom wear safety gear. Our solution, the uplighting board, is a riff off of the safety lights commonly seen on cyclists.

“We then focused our research toward learning more about our user group, and found that most longboard commuters ride in cities, that most longboard collisions with cars happen at night, and that those who commute using public transit, bikes, walking, or the like tend to skew toward younger individuals in creative fields. With this data, we created a brand to suit the urban creative professional. We called it Glare.”

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“Our first prototype was a hacked together proof-of-concept based on our earliest drawings and digital 3D sketches. This feedback gave us particular insight around how to mount the light in the board rather than on it.

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We then simultaneously began drafting 3D models of our second prototype as well as furthering our research around our audience, context, and market to determine the most appropriate branding. This research pointed us to the fact that the largest potential market for our product would be city-dwelling, young- to middle-age, and in a creative field. Our subsequent brand, Glare, spoke directly to all of these points.

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Glare is an edgy but inclusive longboard brand born in the city and built for the urban adventurer. It highlights the mystery of a cityscape at night and the fun of traversing the metropolitan landscape atop a glowing, uplit Glare board. Its monochromatic, angular aesthetic makes a deliberate clean break from the west-coast, beach town aesthetic typified by most longboarding brands. This is done since Glare is intended for a completely different context and for a much different audience.

Glare was expressed as a family of different uplit longboards for different riding applications in an urban commuting context. Our brand comes complete with audience-appropriate merchandise and a targeted marketing message: “Light up your commute.”

The team envisions the uplight indicating more than just a rider’s presence. “The light will indicate when the rider is slowing down—acting like a breaklight by flashing. (The board will be able to recognize that it is slowing down through an accelerometer.) Finally, we understand that the Uplight is useless if the light is not always on. For this reason, we imagine later iterations might be integrated with electric skateboards for longer battery life, and be equipped with pressure sensors mounted beneath the grip tape so that the Uplight automatically switched on whenever it felt a rider’s weight atop it.”

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