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Benefits of 3M Reflective Technology

3M is a pioneer in developing the science behind retroreflection and has been advancing the technology in new and groundbreaking ways for over 70 years.

Scattered Reflection

Retroreflectivity helps the eye perceive objects in low-light conditions when illuminated by a light source. In more scientific terms, retroreflection occurs when light rays are returned in the direction from which they came.


Retroreflective materials appear brightest to an observer located near the original light source, such as a car’s headlights. Since very little light is scattered when the light is returned, retroreflective materials enhance the contrast of the wearer for an observer located near the original light source.

Types of Reflection



A large amount of reflected light is returned directly to the original light source.

Mirror Reflection

Light is reflected at the same angle as it comes in from the source. Light is not returned to the source.

Diffuse Reflection

Very little light is returned to the source. Light is scattered as it hits the surface.


2010 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report cites 69% of pedestrian fatalities occurred at night, with the most dangerous hours between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., that time after work when most cyclists take to the roads. On average over a 2 year period, nearly 1 million cyclists were hit by motorists (2008 NHSTA report). There are many choices for high visibility clothing and accessories out there and the science of visual perception can help guide you.


Our 3M reflective technology contains thousands of tiny glass beads or specially engineered optical prisms that reflect light back to the source, regardless of the direction. One Wonder NYC provides reflective elements on their hats, shirts and socks, which are the most important place, because your legs are in constant motion while pedaling, and these areas have been shown to improve cyclist conspicuity while on the road.  Motorist minds can quickly distinguish a human in motion using the concept called biological motion, or biomotion. Being distinguished as a person amid all of the reflective road signs and mailboxes significantly improves the ability for motorist to see and avoid cyclist.  The full power of biomotion is intriguing and has gone as far as to show that we can determine mood, gender, and weight by observing only a few key points known to invoke the perception of biomotion. One key takeaway is that more reflectivity is better. That’s why we’ve incorporated 3M reflective elements into our 5 panel hats, tees and socks, providing reflective visibility from all key points. The obvious limitation to any reflective jacket or reflective safety vest is that it requires you to be in the headlights to be seen.