Glare

Glare is a longboard skateboard brand designed for the urban commuter. The core safety 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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Team: André Orta, Eugenia Ramos, Micah Lynn, Qixuan Wang

My Contribution: Research, Product Ideation, Branding, Presentation Narrative

Overview

For Glare, our project brief was to identify a subculture, design a product to suit a need within that community, and then design a brand around that product. We carried this out by conducting user and qualitative research, prototyping & testing, and iterating on both brand and product designs.

Ultimately, we built Glare to address the problem of pedestrian injuries due to collisions with cars–a key concern in public transit-heavy cities.

photo credit: André Orta, Qixuan Wang

photo credit: André Orta, Qixuan Wang

photo credit: Qixuan Wang

photo credit: Qixuan Wang

Research

We began by identifying longboard skateboarders as our core user group. I particularly liked this subculture because of its potential to address the broader “first mile, last mile” urban transit problem.

Through user interviews and in-person observations, I learned that longboarders seldom wear safety gear, that personal style was paramount, and that it would be difficult to persuade riders to buy and use wearable safety gear like helmets, pads, and hi-vis garments. I also noticed that deck-mounted lights were commonly used but too low to the ground to be seen by drivers. 

While conducting quantitative research, I 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 indeed longboards tend to skew toward younger individuals in creative fields.

Ideation & Prototyping

Considering our research insights, our solution was to reflect light off of the rider themself, using the rider’s own body as an eye-level lit object to draw a driver’s attention. This also would negate the need for a wearable. Finally, we emphasized this effect by using red light, which is the most visible color in darkness due to its long wavelength.

During ideation, I worked with my team to design our Uplight Longboard in a way that maintained a quality riding experience. I did this by sketching out a flush-mounted Uplight projected through transparent grip tape to improve durability, designing deck shapes that minimized wheel bite, and fabricating plywood deck prototypes.

Branding

After talking through potential transit applications of our prototype with users and my team, I conducted further research into public transit users, pedestrians, and those who might benefit the most from our “first mile, last mile” transit option. My research revealed that the largest potential market for our product would be city-dwelling, 18-35 years of age, educated, and working in a creative field. In response, I designed a brand to speak directly to this new user: Glare.

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 more diverse, commuter-centric audience.