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Uber has a colorful new way to prevent awkward car mixups

LED devices to connect riders to drivers

Uber

Have you ever suffered the embarrassment of jumping into a complete stranger's car, thinking it was the Uber driver you just hailed? Well, these people have.

In an effort to eliminate these mixups, Uber is rolling out a new, color-coded technology called SPOT. The company is providing the devices, which appear to be long, thin LED lights, to drivers to attach to the inside of their windshield. After a rider hails a car, he or she will be asked to select a color — yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, or green — while they wait.

When the driver arrives, the SPOT device will glow in that color. And riders can press and hold the color on their phone to light up their screens, allowing the driver to identify them in return. No more awkward moments, like this woman experienced.

The new feature will only be available in Seattle to start out, which we imagine will come in handy during those murky, rain-soaked Northwestern nights.

"A win for everyone."

"SPOT is the latest experiment in our ongoing effort to make Uber pickups as seamless as possible," the company writes in a recent blogpost. "When riders and drivers can easily find each other, we're able to trim down wait times, which is a win for everyone."

Unlike many taxi services or car service companies, Uber doesn't have a uniform fleet of cars. Drivers are encouraged, but aren't required, to affix an Uber placard inside their windshield. Uber says most of its drivers are part-timers who drive their personal vehicles, so SPOT can certainly help clear up some the confusion experienced by both riders and drivers who are having problems finding each other. And when alcohol is involved, that confusion can get magnified — and hilarious.

Uber is all about efficiency these days. The announcement comes on the heels of another new development in Uberland: a simple line of code offered to app developers who want to integrate an Uber button in their apps. Uber's vision for the future apparently involves a button in every app, and a light in every windshield.