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06 June 2016

Primasil guides Mobile Onboard through successful proof of concept

Primasil Silicones’ expertise and ‘can do’ attitude have helped transform a bright idea into a practical and potentially life-changing solution for bus passengers with visual or hearing impairments.

On-bus technology specialist Mobile Onboard turned to Primasil to collaborate in creating the proof-of-concept prototypes of ViBus, a wristband device which vibrates and flashes to tell visually or hearing impaired passengers when their stop is approaching.

Primasil ViBus wristband in action

The principle behind the wristband is ingeniously simple. A passenger requiring assistance tells the driver his or her destination. The driver taps the wristband’s number into the ViBus app, along with the destination details, and then the passenger puts it on. Via WiFi and Bluetooth connection, a signal is sent to the device to make it vibrate and flash at the right time.

Although the concept is simple, to make the wristband practical and commercially viable Primasil had to meet challenging timescales and budget constraints, as well as design imperatives ensuring the band is discreet, compact, a good fit, and ergonomically easy to put on and remove. It was also essential that the silicone membrane should be sufficiently transparent to transmit the device’s LED lights.

Mobile Onboard is skilled at rapid, cost-effective and innovative prototyping, but this was its first experience of working with a technical rubber specialist. Mobile Onboard Director Corbin Adler says: “This is the first time we have used our rapid prototyping facilities for a project with silicone rubber as a key design element. We had heard that Primasil’s approach was out of the ordinary and with a responsive ‘can do’ attitude they quickly identified the most effective silicone rubber solution for our project. It was clear that Primasil understood and focused on the commercial and practical needs.”

He adds, “ViBus has tremendous scope for upgrading the many mid-life buses on our roads which don’t have modern communication systems, and so empowering visually and hearing impaired people to travel independently and confidently. The proof of concept prototype has now been successfully trialled in Nottingham and next steps include a few minor adaptations and commercial considerations under the remit of our partners Transport Systems Catapult, alongside the Department of Transport.”

Commenting on the collaboration, Primasil’s Managing Director Steve Wheeler says: “As Mobile Onboard has discovered, silicone rubber offers businesses a whole new world of opportunity. With our experience, and proven processes, we are our customers’ expert guide to technical rubber. We have been delighted to work with Mobile Onboard on such a worthwhile project and we look forward to seeing how this device makes a difference to people’s lives.”