Direct Line 


We’re proud of this one because it goes beyond advertising to solve a real-world problem (and was covered by Wired magazine). #lifegoals

We’ve all had a near-death experience on a crossing, right? Rogue bus drivers. Pedestrians glued to their phones. Kids not looking both ways. It’s an accident waiting to happen, and they do 7,000 times a year in the UK.

We noticed that while the world has evolved, the pedestrian crossing has remained virtually untouched since it’s invention, and decided to fix it.

Our idea was a crossing that adapts its markings in real-time, responding to the world around it to prevent accidents. We designed it with technologists Umbrellium and The National Transport Research Laboratory and prototyped it at Wimbledon Studios.

The Smart Crossing used a 32m-long interactive surface to react to common dangerous street scenarios. Umbrellium designed a system that tracked objects moving across the road surface, distinguishing between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, calculating their precise locations, trajectories and velocities. This meant we could anticipate where they might move a moment later.

While it uses familiar and understandable road markings and colours, we designed a unique visual language for the crossing, displayed across a surface embedded with computer-controlled LEDs that can be seen from all angles, during both day and night.

We made sure it actually worked, and tested it on real people - turning the crossing into a nationwide story of innovation for Direct Line, generating 560 pieces of media coverage and shifting the expectations of what the insurance brand experience should be.

But most importantly,  the technology has received backing from road safety charity Brake and Direct Line are in talks with 16 councils about bringing the technology to their streets.

Selected Press
The Telegraph
BBC News
The Sun


William Millner & Tom Cleeland (2020) — London, UK