Uber Releases Beacon, A Color-Coded Signal To Avoid Awkward Car Mixups

Uber Releases Beacon, A Color-Coded Signal To Avoid Awkward Car Mixups
Image Source: Uber (screenshot)

Uber has launched Beacon, a glowing plastic Uber logo that drivers can place inside their windshields. The Beacon will be Bluetooth-enabled, and after the driver accepts a ride request, a pop-up will appear on the rider’s app asking him/her to choose a specific color. For instance, the driver’s Beacon color will turn green if the rider has selected that color. The rider will find the car by seeing the glowing beacon when it arrives.

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Beacon – an offshoot Of Spot

Nikhil Goel, product lead of the Beacon project, said, “You can match the license plate, you can match the make and model, but this is just another product that we are giving you to personalise your ride.”

Beacon is an offshoot of Spot, a pilot product launched by Uber in Seattle almost a year ago. To do away with confusion over awkward vehicle mixups, the company came up with long, thin LED lights that were attached inside the windshield of the cars. Similar to Beacon, the rider could control the device’s light to identify their driver.

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With the Spot project, the company found that the need for riders and drivers to contact one another was reduced, and it also lowered cancellation rates. Uber launched Beacon following positive feedback from Spot, notes The Verge. It must be noted that Uber’s Beacon closely resembles Lyft’s Amp, a candy-colored device.

What challenges did Uber face?

Uber took utmost care in designing the Beacon. In order to distribute the beacon to all its 1.5 million drivers around the globe, the company had to make sure that it did not cost much. Additionally, the Beacon needed to relate with the company, and therefore, it looks like its new logo.

Uber made sure that the Beacon does not stick to the windshield but floats a few centimeters away from the glass so that drivers can identify the color that their rider has chosen, notes The Verge. Uber’s Beacon is wireless and can operate for up to 20 hours on one charge.

“We knew we had to design this to be seen at night, being very sensitive to the installation process, etc. Really the goal was to develop something that we could scale,” said John Badalamenti, senior design lead at Uber.

Uber will start with five cities: Miami, Nashville, Denver, Belfast and Newcastle. Drivers will get the new Beacons free of cost in secret community meetings. The device will reach more cities throughout 2017 with the goal of making them “ubiquitous” by the end of the year, according to Goel.

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