An app that helps drivers avoid red traffic signals

Updated 18 September 2012
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An app that helps drivers avoid red traffic signals

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a system that uses dashboard-mounted smartphones to help drivers avoid red lights and reduce fuel consumption.
The app called SignalGuru predicts when a traffic signal is about to change, and the speed that should be driven when approaching an intersection in order to cruise through without stopping.
“The stop-and-go pattern that traffic signals create increases fuel consumption significantly,” said Emmanouil Koukoumidis, the scientist behind the app.
“We wondered how we could help drivers cruise through signal light intersections without stopping, and how much we could save on gas and improve the flow of vehicles,” he added. When approaching an intersection, the camera on a driver’s dashboard-mounted smart phone is activated, which detects when a signal transitions from red to green and vice versa.
Using this information, the app determines the speed that should be driven to avoid stopping at a red light on the cusp of turning green, or a green light just shy of turning red.
“It tells the drivers that ‘if you drive at 30 miles per hour then you’ll be able to cruise through without stopping,’” explained Koukoumidis, adding that the speed recommended is always within legal speed limits.
Information on the traffic signals, such as when they change, is crowdsourced by other users of the app and then sent back to SignalGuru to improve the accuracy of its predictions. Koukoumidis said that while testing their prototype in Cambridge, Massachusetts they saw a 20 percent decrease in fuel consumption, which could have a significant monetary and environmental impact.
“In the USwe’re spending 1/3 of the annual energy consumption for transportation and a big part of that is vehicles,” he explained. The system was also tested in Singapore, where the traffic lights vary depending on the volume of traffic.
“It was less accurate compared to Cambridge where signals were pre-timed and had fixed settings but it would still work reasonably well with predictions accurate within two seconds,” Koukoumidis said.


Crowdsourcing information about signal lights is necessary, he said, because this data is difficult to access from traffic authorities, which are not unified and do not always have the information computerized.
But this could also pose safety concerns, for example, a signal not changing when predicted due to inaccuracies.
“SignalGuru will advise the driver when to arrive at the intersection but the driver should always check for himself that the light indeed turned green,” he said, noting that it’s similar to how a driver does not follow a navigation device blindly.
Currently the group is looking for industrial partners to commercialize the software. They also plan to implement other safety features, such as thresholds on deceleration, before making it accessible to the public.
Koukoumidis said that going forward their patented approach could also be used to capture other information about the real world, such as available parking spaces or real-time gas prices.
” are computer eyes looking out into the street that can capture all sorts of information,” he said.
The research project was launched as part of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology’s Future Urban Mobility group, in which professors Margaret Mantonosi and Li-Shiuan Peh were advisers.


What to wear in 2019: The fashion trends that will dominate the next 12 months

Snakeskin is a major trend in 2019. (Getty Images)
Updated 17 January 2019
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What to wear in 2019: The fashion trends that will dominate the next 12 months

  • The top fashion trends of 2019
  • From Popcorn sweaters to patchwork pieces

DUBAI: Here are some of the top fashion trends that will rule in 2019.
POPCORN SWEATERS
One of the best ways to identify trends these days is to keep an eye on Pinterest. And pom-pom covered sweaters and cardigans — created using circular crochet bobbles known as popcorn stitches — showed a serious surge in (p)interest toward the end of 2018, with pins featuring the kitsch-y style increasing by 1,395 percent in a short space of time — according to the online bulletin board’s “Pinterest 100” report — marking it out as one of the new year’s major trends and the coolest way to stay warm in the region’s cooler months or on trips to colder climates.

RUCHING
It’s an American designer with Lebanese roots, Norma Kamali, who’s often credited with bringing gathered fabrics into the mainstream and popularizing ruching in the 1980s. In 2018, an American model with Palestinian roots — Bella Hadid — was one of numerous runway walkers sporting ruched clothes on the catwalks to promote 2019 collections. Versatile, flattering and easy-to-wear, ruching is one of this year’s most popular ways to make a silhouette sizzle.

SNAKESKIN
Forget leopard- or zebra-print. This year, for those wanting to take a walk on the wild side, the big game is snakes — at least according to several fashion tipsters (including the “Pinterest 100”) and based on the runways of the Spring/Summer 2019 shows, from Gucci’s snakeskin cami dress to Gigi Hadid walking in a snake-print skirt for Versace at Milan Fashion Week. Stay on-trend by shunning the real thing and opting for an eco-friendly faux-snake piece.

YELLOW
Just as Coldplay predicted before they blanded themselves vanilla, it’s “all yellow” this year. Marigold (or “Gen Z,” if you want to get all millennial about it) yellow, specifically, will continue to surf the wave of popularity it grabbed last year, thanks to young celebs including Millie Bobbie Brown (“Stranger Things”) and Yara Shahidi (“Black-ish”) putting it in the spotlight. But lemon yellow, too, will be brightening up the streets this year, as suggested by designers including Marc Jacobs and Chanel at their Spring/Summer shows.

NEON
If yellow isn’t quite bold enough for whatever statement you’re looking to make, you’ll be glad to hear that even-more-eye-searing color — in the form of neon — is also riding high in 2019’s trending fashion lists. After years of pastel design dominance, vibrant tones are going to be big this year. From Off-White’s combo of the snakeskin and neon trends at Paris Fashion Week to Jasper Conran’s doubling-down on neon in London, the Spring-Summer runways were full of them.

TIE-DYE
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a trend long-ridiculed as hopelessly out-of-date will one day be repurposed as bleeding-edge fashion. In 2019, it’s the turn of tie-dye. The style beloved by hippies and psychedelic-rock fans is returning with a vengeance, kickstarted by getting much love shown to it at New York Fashion Week. Admittedly, the 2019 version looks a bit tidier than the retro DIY done-in-my-bathtub styling that was popular last time around, but the kaleidoscopic, flowery patterns at its heart are straight out of the Sixties.

PATCHWORK
Forget the homely, rustic/frumpy vibe traditionally associated with patchwork — in 2019, mismatched patterns will be everywhere, from coats to shoes. High-end designers including Libertine and Isabel Marant (who went for patchwork denim — a fabric that will also be big this year) gave patchwork with a modern twist serious exposure on the catwalks at the major fashion weeks, and that’s already started to rub off on high-street retailers, ensuring patchwork blanket (!) coverage in the near future.

OVERSIZED HATS
If you follow Instagram fashionistas, then this is one trend you’ll definitely have already identified. Big (but, like, BIG) hats were all over social feeds last summer, and brands aren’t going to miss out on the chance to shift a few units this time around — meaning we’ll likely see a swing from cult status to mainstream approval for massive headwear this year.