Still feeling the effects of recent civil war and the Ebola epidemic, Liberia has experienced many technological and economical setbacks over the past few decades. The trials the country has faced has caused its culture to develop in unique ways. One such cultural manifestation is the Pehn Pehn driver. As ex-soldiers turned motorcycle taxi drivers, Pehn Pehn drivers serve as one of the primary means of transportation and employment in Monrovia, Liberia’s capitol city. However, issues of safety and legitimacy have spurred a backlash in public perception, legislative bans and thousands unemployed.
Our research team sought to engage these Pehn Pehn drivers through wearable technology. We constructed a kit called the Pehn Pehn Pixel Vest that consists of a safety vest, a microcontroller, smart LEDs, and embedded sensors. The educational kits are designed to engage the motorcyclists in physical prototyping, wearable construction, and personal customization through a planned workshop administered by a partnering organization called the iLab (a open-access technology hub that engages in public outreach and technology education in Monrovia). The activity is intended to be empowering and meaningful, and will promote safety, visibility, and legitimacy to the Pehn Pehn drivers.