(Photo courtesy of Maximillian Franz)
With the sun going down around 5 p.m. this time of year, a lot of runners pound the pavement in the dark. That brings safety issues.
Two of those runners, Julie and Tim Polanowski, were particularly concerned one night when they saw a runner in dark clothes jump from the street to the grass, and back to the street to avoid traffic. “Why would they put their life at risk?” Tim Polanowski thought.
More than a year later, the couple is ready to offer a solution — with a new kind of apparel that helps runners be seen.
“The whole point of these illuminated pants is for safety,” said Julie Polanowski, who runs the business side.
Tim came up with the concept after being disappointed by the available options for gear that helped draw attention to runners in the dark, such as various lights, reflective vests and headlamps. He worked on the project in the basement, looking to create a prototype that would stay lit by a battery that wasn’t too bulky.
“I was making this for me,” he said. He and Julie ended up believing it has legs. There were several different prototypes. To collect feedback, they went for runs in various areas of Baltimore.
The prototypes — shorts for men and capri-length pants for women — feature LED lights that are sewn all around the pants. The washable and dryable pants are powered by a rechargeable battery pack that connects around the runner’s waist via belt buckle.
For added safety, the battery pack also has a distress signal that sounds an alarm and changes the color of the lights from green to red.
With the Kickstarter, they are seeking $315,000. That would be enough to fund 5,000 units, which would be produced locally through a partnership with Harbor Designs and Manufacturing.-30-
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