A standard orange traffic barrel isn't particularly innovative but what iCone Products LLC has been putting in them is getting rave reviews from IBM, OSHA and green technology groups. The Intelligent Transportation Society of New York named it as the "Project of the Year".
"We're hoping this unassuming - it's not high tech innovation - could change the way we look at traffic management and speed enforcement," said Gavin Forrester from iCone
On the inside of the barrel an "iCone" has a computer, radar and a communications system that constantly updates traffic conditions. The iCone's developers say that information can improve construction site safety.
"You can see if traffic is moving efficiently or if it's starting to slow down and they can get better ideas how to warn the workers or design the construction site better," said Forrester.
iCones are already in use on the New York State Thruway downstate and on one of the most famous traffic logjams in the country - the San Francisco Bay Bridge. On the web you can check the readings from each individual barrel. On Thursday afternoon they showed a traffic slowdown as it was happening. One barrel reported traffic at forty three miles an hour while just a thousand feet down the road it was down to thirty nine.
A big orange barrel called the iCone may not be as cool as Wednesday's iPad's announcement in San Francisco, but Forrester says the iCone may end up helping more people.
"You start getting better traffic control, you start saving fuel, you start saving billions of dollars on fuel costs - so it probably would affect life more then the typical Apple "i" construct," said Forrester.
The iCone could also identify roads where drivers are regularly exceeding the speed limit and give police an idea of where to set up. The developers also think it has a lot of potential as an iPhone App.