A Carlow company has been playing their part in helping to create a safer environment for runners and walkers at night, as the dark evenings close in, with their creation of an innovative LED running belt which allows users to safely walk or run at night and be visible for up to 500 metres in front of an oncoming vehicle.
Bodylite is the brainchild of Padraic George, who is the Managing Director of Cheetah Electronics. A keen runner, he explains he ran in to a problem which most people who run or walk in rural Ireland will encounter.
“Just because of the nature of my work I have to exercise either extremely early in the morning or late at night. A lot of my training would have been done running along backroads in a very rural part of Carlow, which had little to no street lighting. I have used both my phone and hand torch in the past to be visible to traffic but if you do it often enough, you’ll realise that it’s not efficient and really from a safety perspective it’s not ideal. So, I just felt there had to be a solution, and given my background in electrical engineering and owning my own electronics company, I felt I had the tools to design something that might be helpful to people in a similar situation,” Mr George said.
Concepts, creating prototypes, testing, and branding and all the little steps in between took three years before the Bodylite brand came to life in 2016.
Their Night Runner LED belt, which was designed in collaboration with DesignCore in Carlow Institute of Technology has proved to be a huge success, with a number of unique design and functionality features which the company says sets it apart from other competitors in the market.
Using LED technology enabled Bodylite to have the highest light to power consumption ratio, while a lithium-ion battery provided the best light emission to weight ratio – both combined allowed the belt to be lightweight but also packing a significant light output.
The belt also has a unique buckle system, an elasticated stability system, and a tensioning system developed by Bodylite and Carlow IT, with these technologies combining to minimize light movement. They chose a material called Polyurethane (PU) coated nylon for the belt which also makes it durable and water-resistant.
“These technologies combined give us a huge competitive advantage. These technologies have propelled us to become Ireland’s leading road safety and reflective sportswear brand.” Padraic added.
The Carlow company currently employs up to 20 people that are both full and part time staff across both Bodylite and their electronics factory – Cheetah Electronics but Padraic has said that a further expansion could be on the cards in 2022.
He said: “If this winter season goes well for us, we do plan on expanding our current safety wear product range and will slowly begin to test activewear clothing, designed for runners and walkers in 2022, however, these would not be full-time positions until the brand steps out of our current seasonal product range. When Bodylite gets busier in the winter months we have previously pulled employees from Cheetah when needed, like last year we had additional staff working throughout the Christmas period.”
With the close of 2021 imminent, it’s all hands on deck for Bodylite – who are now also in the process of developing an activewear range which they plan to launch in 2022.
Padraic and Cheetah Electronics have once again also teamed up with DesignCore and are currently in the process of developing tests and prototypes for another project which they have said remains under wraps for now.
Students at the School of Design in Carlow IT were also involved in the design concepts process for the upcoming activewear range for runners and walkers, in addition to conducting surveys and market research which BodyLite has described as “extremely valuable.”
He concluded: “We’re in a very exciting phase at the moment, with ongoing and future projects. We’re also working on improving our existing offering by implementing the feedback we’ve received from customers. We recently connected a Trustpilot account to Bodylite so we can get more accurate reviews about the products and services. We’re looking forward to a busy couple of months as the winter evenings approach and we hope to reveal our newest product launch soon.”
To get Bodylite’s range of products before the dark evenings and mornings set in, see www.bodylitegear.com