traffikflo toronto

Toronto company has launched a social distancing traffic light for customers

A Toronto company launched a social distancing traffic light so customers know when it's ok to enter certain businesses, because one thing we don't need right now is another complicated system.

When TraffikFlo signs are lit up green, it's ok to enter; when they're red, it's not. It's that simple. They're controlled by an app or web browser operated by the business.

"We'd find ourselves looking in shop windows wondering if we were okay to enter. And with the glare on most windows, we often didn't know how many people were inside the store, or if it was even open," TraffikFlo creator Damian Wright told blogTO, describing walks with his wife.

"We'd have to press our faces against the glass to count the number of people inside. We went to a local cafe, thinking there was room for us, but didn't see a third person at the back. Upon entering, the barista called out to us, 'Please WAIT outside' and I thought, 'there has to be a better way.'"

The TraffikFlo sign can be purchased online, and to set it up you simply unbox it, download a special app, sync the app to the sign, place it in the window and you're good to go.

"I am a creative technologist and my company, WXM, produces innovative, interactive installations for events and advertising campaigns, so I'm always thinking about ways to improve consumer engagements and this was one such case," says Wright.

"I thought it could be so easy to have a mini traffic light system in the window that the staff could control safely inside the store or behind the counter. It would also save them having to employ someone to manage a lineup and would make it really clear to customers if it was safe to enter."

Everything about the sign is local, from product design to printing, circuit board schematics and construction, even testing and safety approvals. Using these local suppliers as well as affordable recycled cardboard as the material for the housing and insert allowed them to get their product on the local market within three months.

"Once it was with some really great local stores, we started getting support from other local stores in the area, then from across Southern Ontario and eventually across Canada. We're now available in the US and UK. Shopify also reached out to us early on, and now sells our sign in their retail hardware store across North America," says Wright.

You can spot TraffikFlo signs in action all around Toronto, at places like Mellah, The Cookery, Simply Beautiful, Golden Gecko CoffeeOuter Layer and many more.

"We mainly reach our customers through word of mouth and through the new stores that post on social about us on our behalf, letting everyone know they love the product and sharing their own little demos of how it works. They really give us the reach we were hoping for, and the sign has really made a difference to their stores, which is great," says Wright.

"We could even help small businesses open more safely, by allowing them to control the capacity within their stores as restrictions lift. The sign is covered under the Digital Main Street and other provincial grants as a COVID-19 store sign, so it's a tax write off for them which is really fantastic as we know every dollar counts for them right now."

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