Pavement Patty Speed Control

by Chris Silver Smith

I saw this on MSNBC last week, and I thought it was clever. “Pavement Patty” is an anamorph image painted onto the street. As you drive up to it, the image of the child and the ball are designed in a perspective distortion that causes it to pop out, making it seem as though a child chasing a ball has just dashed out into the street in front of you:

Pavement Patty

Anamorphs or anamorphic projections are optical illusions that have been around since the Renaissance.

Using an anamorph in this way is innovative, although I’m not entirely convinced that painting optical illusions out in the street is a good idea. If a driver glances at the street before them, glances away, and then looks up and sees a child abruptly in front of them, they’re more likely to swerve, causing a real accident in an effort to avoid a false one.

To really see the effect, watch the video.

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2 Responses to “Pavement Patty Speed Control”

  1. What’s the deal with the co-anchor in that clip saying “That’s so wrong?” I find this kind of thing to be brilliant. Emotionally intelligent signage, as Daniel Pink might call it.

  2. Silver says:

    Yeah, I’m not sure why they say that. Maybe they mean it’s just a surprising thing to see or surprising effect to experience while driving.

    There really is a brilliance to it — that’s why it caught my eye to begin with. I think the concept is great, but I’d also like to see some followup studies on whether it really does slow people down or make them more watchful.

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