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High Visibility Sign and Pathway Marking Technology for Public Safety

The US Navy seeks licensees to commercialize a method for combining high visibility safety markings with a tactile enhancing material.
Poor stairway visibility can lead to misreading the stair edge, which can cause faulty foot placement and an accident. This is particularly common with short stairways that consist of one, two, or three steps. Thousands of people are injured each year from falling on stairs, and public and private organizations are exposed to expensive lawsuits stemming from injuries on their property. Expensive and time consuming litigation is preventable if safety measures are in place to prevent slips, trips, and falls. Adding emergency lighting in stairwells or wiring for stair nose lighting can be cost prohibitive. 

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Signs combining retroreflection, reflection,  and luminescence
Safety signs combining retroreflection, reflection, and luminescence
The Technology: 

The US Naval Surface Warfare Center has developed a cost-effective method for improving stairwell signs and markers, which are optimally visible even under low light conditions. Additionally, the glow in the dark markings include a rough surface for slip resistance.

There are numerous settings besides stairwells where it is desirable to have highly visible safety signs. For instance, emergency exit signs, pathways or escape routes should all be clearly visible to people under near dark or very dimly lit conditions.The invention is based on a premixing of reflective glass or ceramic beads, the photoreflective pigments and the photoluminescent pigments. The materials are mixed into a liquid resin, densely dispersed throughout the resin with the reflective beads partially protruding at the top surface for a rough finish. After curing is completed, a suitable adhesive backing with release paper is applied to the surface opposite the rough finish. When light hits the particulate-containing resin, the materials reflect the light and become highly visible under poorly lit conditions. The final inventive product is a peel-and-stick type of signage suitable for marking pathways, road lanes, and stairwells.

  • Highly visible under poorly lit conditions:  The reflective material is visible at practically all angular lines of sight and under dim lighting conditions.
  • Slip resistant:  Rough surface increases surefootedness.
  • Wide variety of Applications:  Marking of emergency exits, stairwells, and escape routes in buildings and mass transit or public transportation.
The Opportunity: 
  • US patent 6,696,126 is available for license
  • Potential for collaboration with US Navy engineers