Gadget Renesas

Linking Ideas and Electronics

GR Atelier


Displayed Name:Seasonal Shiitake Mushroom Stoneware/Shun Murakami


Concept / Overview
ThankSignal is a new display device for communicating appreciation from a vehicle. Using a smartphone, one may signal appreciation to the car behind or to pedestrians by using voice recognition or the tap of a screen to activate animation using LCDs affixed to the rear-view window of the vehicle. This display device resembling a cute cartoon character expresses the feel-good whimsy of the transportation world.

The idea behind the gadget & happy users

The name

“ThankSignal” reflects the wish to express one’s appreciation


The concept

ThankSignal is a device helping a driver simply and clearly express appreciation to the vehicle behind, or to pedestrians.

It is common for drivers allowed to ease into traffic or change lanes to thank the driver behind him/her who allowed the courtesy, usually accomplished by flashing one’s hazard lights. This gesture is not taught at driver training schools, but has somehow spread as a common courtesy. While not the orthodox way of using one’s hazard lamp, it sprang up to support drivers’ wish to communicate with others on the road.


Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for drivers to misread the hazard signal as a true emergency stop on the part of the car ahead, giving rise to danger. The Japan Auto Federation (JAF) and police agree that, while this custom of using the hazard lamp to communicate “thanks” is not illegal, it has caused problems when misunderstood as a true emergency stop. The following are some issues arising from use of the hazard lamp to express appreciation:

  • the meaning may be understood in different ways, depending on the individual and/or the country, causing a dangerous situation to arise
  • failure to use the hazard lights with appropriate timing may lead the driver to be considered rude
  • some pedestrians and bicyclists may not understand the expression of appreciation
  • though they understand the gesture, they may not find it pleasant as showing appreciation is not the original purpose of the hazard lamp

For these reasons, I felt there was a need for another simple and clear way of expressing gratitude from one’s vehicle. Moreover, as driverless cars become the norm, drivers will have even a stronger need to communicate their intent to others on the road.


Affixing the “ThankSignal” to one’s vehicle as a clear and simple way of expressing appreciation solves the abovementioned issues and ensures a happier world for those sharing the road.


System configuration

The device is comprised of a display communicating appreciation through a pictograph, and a controller used to transmit the signal used for the display. A pictograph (showing a face, etc.) communicates meaning at once to a broad range of individuals spanning all ages and nationalities. Moreover, it can communicate more clearly than letters (words) even when a vehicle is travelling at high speed.

Display device

A smartphone command is received through a combination of GR-PEACH, display, and BLE, which enables the display to express multiple pictographs as animation. The device is affixed to the rear-view window to allow the driver following behind to view the display.


A tap or activation of voice recognition will prompt the BLE to transmit a signal for the gadget to display pictographs. An easy-to-use smartphone application customizes pictorial expressions according to the driver’s taste before he or she sets off down the road.

How to Use the Device

Place the smartphone beside the driver

Select the “thanks” screen

Tap the screen or say “thanks” to activate voice the recognition mode

The display device attached to the rear-view window receives the signal and displays the pictograph for a set time period.


Happy Users

All drivers, especially:

  • those who are in a rush and unable to express their thanks
  • those who don’t want to sue the hazard light to express appreciation
  • the driver behind you who yielded and expects to be recognized
  • individuals who did not know whether or not to use the hazard button to express appreciation while overseas
  • pedestrians or bicyclists normally don’t have communication with drivers

The ThankSignal offers communication between those giving and receiving the signal and enhances joy for those sharing the roads.


Results Achieved as of Contest Judging

GR-PEACH and LCD were used to create a device displaying pictographs as well as a controller application. Also achieved BLE-enabled transmission between the two, readying them for operations. 


Demo Video

Seasonal Shiitake Mushrooms/Shun Murakami