Re-learning The Traffic lights

For the greater good of mankind I’m willing to do my bit and learn new traffic rules. If it saves a life or time, then why not! What Uni-Signal here is saying, that we have been using round traffic lights for ages now, with only the red-amber-green-colors for aid. How about prepping the system and broadening the spectrum of usage (by colorblind people) and change the shape of the lights! Triangle-Red-Stop, Circle-Amber-Stay, Rectangle-Green-Go! If nothing else, it looks swanky and now we can teach tiny-tots shapes and colors in one go!

Designers: by Ji-youn Kim, Soon-young Yang & Hwan-ju Jeon

Uni-Signal - Universal Signal Light by Ji-youn Kim, Soon-young Yang & Hwan-ju Jeon




  • Colorblind people know top=stop.

    • ColorBlindInCA says:

      That often doesn’t work at night. For most traffic signals, I can’t tell red from yellow at night and have even been in a minor collision due to an “unexpected stop” at a yellow light.

    • namehere says:

      wouldn’t a larger group of people, colorblind or not know that a sqare is stop from electronics, likewise the triangle is go? Also at some point if they do drive they would have been told the green is on the top?

    • steven says:

      you cant see which one is the top in the darkness

    • Bill Masen says:

      The optimal shape-color pairings are completely subjective as everyone learns to associate different colors with different shapes. This fact makes any given solution not immediately intuitive to everyone equally.

      Also, people may only interpret either the color or the symbol, and not both together, which increases the likelihood that the signal will be misinterpreted.

      This project, I feel, is one that warrants a “Don’t fix what isn’t broken” dismissal.

  • BK says:

    Nice idea. I’d love to see that come true.

  • John says:

    [Triangle-Red-Stop, <>-Amber-Stay, <>-Green-Go]

    Hmmm.. I had no idea there were shapeblind people as well..

  • John says:

    Triangle-Red-Stop, []Rectangle-Amber-Stay, ( )Round-Green-Go!
    Hmmm.. I didn’t know comments were affected by the .. I was just trying to make the error slightly more obvious.

  • I believe that triangle in this particular example should be rotated 90′ as it shouldn’t be mistaken with an arrow facing forward (colour-blid people can have a problem with that). When rotated, the triangle will point to the ground meaning that you have to stop.

    Anyways, brilliant idea! 🙂

  • I’m really sorry, but this is daft.Just look at your remote control to see why. A square means stop and an arrow/triangle universally means play/go. It’s not a bad concept, it’s just horribly executed.

    You have to consider existing conventions if you’re going to design… well… anything. And it’s often good to question those conventions, this just isn’t one of those times.

    • Adam says:

      People don’t look for VCR buttons when driving. Following standard sign shapes would work better.

      Octagon = stop (red)
      Diamond = warning (amber)
      Umm… there’s no ‘go’ sign, maybe use triangle since Yield is close.

  • Pablo says:

    In terms of sustainability, I prefer the actual design because it’s more easy to replace/repair as all parts are the same round design.

  • Andrew says:

    I agree with the other commenters. This is silly because Top = stop, bottom = go. Also, traffic lights have different colours mixed into them (they’re not pure red, green and orange)so they are easily distinguishable form each other.
    This seems like an unnecessary product.

  • Hans12 says:

    different shapes could be a good idea to put all signs in one. So traffic lights do not need to consist of 3 big parts. Just one, capable of showing 3 shapes ind 3 colors.
    A simple “screen”.

    could help at places, where space is a problem (eg. parking in a building)

  • Sundance says:

    Are not some shapes already used for certain purposes, an octagon for stop, triangle for warnings, so with your example you’d do better to have the red be an octagon, orange/amber a triangle, green could be any other shape.

    • ptamaro says:

      I agree: Red octagon = Stop!

      Context matters. I do like the general idea of adding shape for further differentiation between colors and reinforcing their rapid/easy identification…

  • As a general idea, redundant encoding information does make sense, even in a traffic light. But as some people already mentioned, you’ll have to go with well established conventions when doing so. One convention breached is the ‘square -> stop, triangle -> go’ metaphor used on remote controls. The other one is even worse since it’s from the same knowledge domain: traffic signs with a triangle corner facing up are ‘allow’-signs, facing down is ‘give way’. To stay consistent with traffic signs, I agree with Sundance: the top element should be an octagon. Then orange/yellow could then be a triangle pointing down.
    Unfortunately ‘green’ is not easily represented as a triangle pointing up (or left or right) since this would conflict with turn-specific lights.

  • rowjelio says:

    looks great and all, just one problem: here in the US, YELLOW YIELD SIGNS are TRIANGLES, and RED STOP SIGNS are CIRCULAR. If they made that switch, it would probably make much more sense to people

  • uproc says:

    This already exists in practice.

    The wikipedia entry for traffic signal contains an image of it in use in Canada.

  • Paul Tomblin says:

    You’re only a few dozen years too late – Quebec has had this for years. Many traffic lights in Quebec are horizontal, have different shapes for green, yellow, and red, and have two red lights just to make it even more obvious. However, those signals are being phased out for some reason.

  • vanderleun says:

    From a comment to the tumblr ittem i did on this:

    There’s definitely plenty of room for improvement. But I don’t get the gist of the shape choices made here.

    A triangle, pointed side up, can be used to indicate direction. As such, I’d consider that for the green light so that it can tell you when and where to go.

    For red, why not make it octagonal, the same shape as a stop sign? It’d be a subtle difference from a plain circle, especially at these sizes with automotive distances involved, but I think it’s the most obvious choice.

    And then there’s yellow. Let’s make that the square one. It’s always awkward anyway, placing you in the dilemma of flooring the gas or stomping the brake.

  • Dan Katz says:

    Doesn’t it make more sense for the red to be something like a octagon (like a “stop sign”), and yellow to triangle (like a “warning sign”).

  • Ro says:

    Pointless. As other posters have noted, the shapes are all wrong, and the colors are not “true”, thereby allowing color-blind people to recognize them. My color-blind son has recognized stop-caution-go from childhood from both position AND color.

    If you’re going to make shapes for the different lights, why not an X for stop and an arrow for go? Even the electronically illiterate among us will recognize those.

  • Kevin says:

    Awesome idea. I really like this. Of course it could use more refinement, but it’s a cool idea!

  • Dakro says:

    The red one should be square, the yallow one a triangle et the green on should be round.

  • Wonderful idea. 🙂

  • strangerover says:

    Wait… a forward-pointing arrow means… stop??

    The shapes idea is fine, but take at least two minutes of design time and THINK about which shapes mean what.

    Ray and Charles are frowning upon you!

  • Wonderful idea. 🙂

  • strangerover says:

    @Ro Yes. X = Stop Arrow = go. Duh!!!

  • Dyyami says:

    Wow, apart from the very stupid idea of making shapes to help the colour blind in traffic (because even in the dark you can tell if the light at the top, middle or bottom is on since the one light that is on provides enough light to distiguish its position) you also managed to get the symbols all wrong – unless ofcourse this makes sense in Asia

    • CJ says:

      It’s not too much of a problem unless they mount the light horizontally.

  • Mamula says:

    Shouldn’t it be:

    Triangle – pointing up! – green – go,
    Rectangle – red – Stop

    That makes much more sence to me.

    Otherwise – Great Idea! 🙂

  • JP says:

    Great concept but bad execution; the shapes are completely wrong.

  • CJ says:

    If you use LEDs for the light can’t the boxes be all squares (for cost) and the lights simply show the shape?

  • Iulian says:

    Shape differentiation is useless in this case because you see the colours in relation to the other two unlit lights.

    And, at night, when it’s harder to see the relation between the lit and unlit lights, it is common sense not to go through an intersection with the pedal to the floor.

  • I suggest first an exchange between the formats assigned to red and green due to in the audio and video players the square symbol explicitly means stop and the triangle (an arrow is like a sided triangle) means go on.

    As modern all the lights are LED type (spend less energy and have long life term in addition to better visibility) could be made that had a pattern that for a colorblind viewer see the symbol equivalent.

    These are my suggestions.

  • Telemak says:

    It is wonderfull and I asuum very rational and usefull, espetialy for colour-blind (daltonic) people, who can’t have drieving licesne only because thay mix red with green.

    Best !


  • JC says:

    They’ve been using a similar design in the province of Quebec, Canada for decades.

  • Biseptoon says:

    I sent exactly the same idea to BMW ideacontest this spring ( and suppose that this designer has stole my idea from this comptition.

  • William says:

    In general, colour is a better distinguisher than shape as it can be determined at a greater distance. It is difficult to tell a shape, but colour can be seen even when the shape cannot be made out. To solve the most common red-green blindness problem, it would be best to change the green light to blue. Red (the most important indicator) could stay intact.

    In terms of eco friendliness, it would be better to put all the lights on the same area using LED’s and change the pattern and colour for different signals. However, this completely ignores the obvious fact that the light is the smallest component of the whole system; the poles, wires and control box are much bigger.

  • Julian says:

    I agree with most of the other comments. Red square at the top, amber circle in the middle and green triangle at the bottom. The triangle could even be rotated 90 degrees for specific left and right turns.
    Hell, why have 3 separate areas for the lights? They could all be in one panel with different shapes shown for each signal.

    The other thing that gets me on this design is that it looks like a scary looking clown or something!

  • Grenadine says:

    I think the triangle looks too much like an arrow and the green should be a triangle instead.

  • yosef shuman says:

    How did this warrant praise? I am thrilled by the intelligence of the community’s comments.

    Being that the new design is all about incorporating shape, can using relevant shapes be any more blatantly obvious?

    This design is the Microsoft Kin of Traffic Lights.

  • Brad George says:

    This is such a nice collection of traffic lights design.

  • Brad George says:

    This is such a nice collection of traffic lights design.

  • Midimagic says:

    Two problems:

    1. Canada has already installed a system like this, but the shapes are different. There should not be two standards.

    Red = square
    Yellow = diamond
    Green = round

    2. Nobody has an idea for determining the red, yellow, and green arrows used in the US.

  • Dan Plug says:

    I never knew that traffic lights could be so interesting

  • joyzkie says:

    How much will be the cost of that traffic light?

  • joyzkie says:

    how much will be the cost or budget in installing traffic light? and how many days will be the time span of installing it?

  • Pedro Pasta says:

    They need more of these in France because some roads still have the OLD priorities given to drivers from the right which is okay IF you already know that but no so good when you are visiting the country and not aware of this until it is too late!

  • oliver says:

    Doesn’t make sense to make the square stop.
    The triangle means warning, therefor you use it for stop too. That is also why the stop sign got a triangle because it indicates a warning.

  • If you are going for best contents like myself, just visit this site every day because it offers quality contents, thanks

  • Michael Grondin says:

    As a color blind person, I have some experience here. Several people have mentioned putting all the lights in one panel and different shapes and colors appearing inside. However, this removes the most important redundancy that all people use when it is difficult to see the light – the lit position. Different shapes would be useful up close, colors are more useful at a distance (unless color blind), but position can be easily determined from any distance as long as the case is visible. At night, this can be difficult, so a visible rectangular outline (which some lights have already) can be very useful (either by reflective paint or a luminous device).

    The more redundancy the better, but we should also be consistent with current standards. We should use an octagon for red/stop light to match stop signs and a yellow triangle to match caution signs. Green is debatable since we don’t have “GO” signs, but we should avoid the circle because it looks to much like the octagon from a distance.

Comments are closed.