Optical Illusion Improves Visibility of Highway Markers (Oct, 1939)

I’m guessing that someone’s last thought as they hurtled through the intersection right in front of a fast moving truck was “Why did someone paint ‘POTS’ on the ground?”

Optical Illusion Improves Visibility of Highway Markers

Optical illusions are now being turned to the cause of highway safety with the recent development by Frank McLaughlin, a Chicago, Ill., industrial designer, of road signs that are said to have a three-dimensional effect, although they are actually stenciled flat on the pavement. Designed according to a mathematical formula that applies to each letter of the alphabet, the sign’s property of seeming to stand up away from the street makes it visible to motorists 150 feet farther away than conventional road markers.

  1. sweavo says: August 5, 20082:46 am

    it would be even more readable if they put the letters in a sane orientation! POTS! There’s a junction! POTS!

  2. pippi says: August 5, 20085:32 am

    Hmmm, let’s see/speculate. The people that aren’t paying enough attention to see normal signs, thus needing something stronger suddenly see a sign jump up in front of them. They, logically, swerve to avoid the POTS in the road. Maybe that is why we don’t see that type signs today.

  3. Bob Sky says: August 5, 20086:32 am

    They do this here in Japan, although they appear to be big orange and blue blocks on the road…like the MC Escher delivery truck lost part of their load. They are eyecatching!

  4. Toronto says: August 5, 20081:31 pm

    I thought POTS was “Plain Old Telephone Service” here.

    But don’t many US locations use


    type painted warnings? It’s the same idea of reading the closest part first.

  5. Mike says: August 5, 20087:31 pm

    They need a shadow. 🙂

  6. Tom says: August 21, 20086:52 am

    Brilliant. Recently reinvented to much fanfare [‘scuse foxnews link]

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