In collaboration with Grey London and the spray paint company Albedo 100, carmaker Volvo has created a new reflective paint that is invisible in sunlight and easily washes off. Now Volvo is encouraging U.K. bicyclists to spray it all over themselves, like Axe body spray, before they hit the roads, as a potential solution to the U.K.’s 19,000 annual bicycling-related accidents.
LifePaint, as it’s called, is really less of what we’d traditionally call a paint and more of a spray containing thousands of tiny, transparent spheres. When light enters the sphere, it boomerangs back to the source, making the spray glow-in-the-dark, a concept we previously saw applied to bicycles with the Lumen Bike. But unlike the reflective paint on the Lumen, LifePaint can be applied to your existing bike, as well as helmets, jackets, and more. If you don’t like it, you can wash it off, or it will fade totally within 10 days.
Cool tech–and a tagger’s dream and a raver’s fantasy–but why is Volvo mucking around with paint to begin with? According to Volvo, it’s all about safety.
Volvo has built its brand on a reputation of safety and reliability since the 1940s, when the company first introduced a safety cage to its cars. Many safety innovations we take for granted, like the three-point safety belt, are Volvo inventions. Lately, Volvo’s safety innovations have focused protecting cyclists: The company introduced a cyclist detection system in 2013 that automatically brakes a car when it’s about to sideswipe a cyclist. But there’s only so much Volvo can do to design cars that won’t hit cyclists.
“Every year more than 19,000 cyclists are injured on the U.K.’s roads,” Nick Connor, managing director at Volvo Car U.K., said in a statement. “At Volvo, we believe that the best way to survive a crash is not to crash, and are committed to making the roads a safer place by reducing the number of accidents.”
LifePaint is partly a marketing exercise for the new Volvo XC90. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea, if it actually works as advertised. Right now, Volvo is giving away LifePaint on a limited basis in six cycling shops in Kent and London, but if the product does well, Volvo says it might bring the product to market internationally.
Update: A previous version of the article said that there were 19,000 bicycling-related deaths the U.K. every year, instead of 19,000 injuries. It has been corrected.