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Invention: A portable wall for crowded public transit

Invention: A portable wall for crowded public transit

Posting in Design

Have you ever wanted a little bit of privacy on a crowded subway? A new device has you covered.

It's always rush hour, when I'm packed into a crowded subway car, when I imagine that, somehow, a magic wall has gone up between me and the other passengers. As much I appreciate the human interaction that comes with riding transit, sometimes it's just too much and I need my own space (even if it is imaginary).

Lisa Daly, a lawyer from the Washington, D.C. area, who regularly rides the subway, invented a real way carve out space on the train during rush hour with a device called the Sensory Shield.

But it's not because she's gets annoyed with people bumping into her.

Daly is autistic and has Sensory Processing Disorder. So when she's in a crowded place, like the subway, she can get overstimulated, NBC Washington reports.

That's why she designed the Sensory Shield. The design of the product is simple. You sit on the bottom section of the L-shaped device and a mini wall goes up between you and other passengers, preventing accidental contact.

Initially, I thought use of the device could come off as rude. But as Daly tells The Huffington Post, that hasn't been her experience:

Daly assumed when she first started using her prototype Sensory Shield -- which, she says, makes her feel "like I'm in a little cocoon" -- she'd face unfriendly reactions. Instead, she's found, people mostly ask what it is, and where they can buy one.

"I thought no one would understand it," she says. "What I thought was going to be a barrier has opened communication."

While Daly initially designed the Sensory Shield for herself, the concept is turning into a legitimate business. She recently won a local business plan competition which awarded her business $5,000 to further develop the device, which she's already doing. Along with this design for ground transportation, Daly says she is working on designs specifically for airplanes, classrooms, testing centers, and other crowded places.

Photo: Video screenshot from NBC Washington

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure