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a new temperature-sensitive varnish that can be applied to road surfaces to visually warn drivers about dangerous conditions.

the varnish is made of a polymer containing a thermochromic pigment. the same type of coating is already used to make bath thermometers & frozen food packaging that responds to temperature change. however, it is the first time such a coating has been used to monitor road temperatures.

[link: newscientist.com|via neatorama.com|thnkx Martin]

see also color changing concrete & thermo-chromic tiles

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3 COMMENTS

Neat, but not perfect to me.

A few places I have seen reflective road signs that show a sort of asterisk/snowflake shape when freezing. Always attached to signs that say what its for and what it looks like when freezing. But its not on the road, and is therefore about air temperature.

So, I prefer this in the sense that its about the road, and ON the road. I dislike it because its arbitrarily encoded. Its pink and square. Nothing about that says "ice" to me. I want blue and snow-flake shaped.

Wed 09 Apr 2008 at 1:58 AM

Wouldnt it be too late when you're upon it on the road and there's ice/black ice in particular? I know that in my experience driving, I wouldnt be able to see the road surface at night in what might be rainy conditions 3 feet off the ground but icing at the surface. Not only that, I am color blind - so a numerical or alpha indicator would be much better. Even a snowflake or ice-cubes, etc..

Wouldnt a sensor attached to a blinking light(s) or another type of indicator be more valuable?

Personally, I like the in-car-info approach of sensors along the road that the car reads for ground temp, air temp, ambient conditions, even traffic conditions a mile ahead or so... In car, so much so, that the in-car-computers could warn the following cars coming along the same path but have yet to arrive at the particular location of ice/snow/tornado/dust/traffic/etc..

Wed 09 Apr 2008 at 8:11 AM
Anthony

the point is that every condition that would make this a good thing - will make this varnish invisible. if the street is too hot I will see it by the mirror effect and if it´s too wet it's almost the same too. visual indicaton needs to be independent of the weather conditions, otherwise it's more like these weather stones (if stone is wet - it's raining, stone white - it snows, stone moves - storm, etc etc). only black ice would be a nearly non-visible condition that still makes the varnish visible, and it still was too late ..

Wed 13 May 2009 at 11:43 PM
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