Nov. 28, 2011 at 10:27 AM ET
Using a smartphone while walking can be dangerous business — you could stroll right into a light pole, off a bridge, into traffic or away from reality.
But this particular risky activity doesn't exactly bring a lot of public service announcements, laws and warnings though. Instead it comes with apps which enable obsessed smartphone users to excuse their distracted demeanor.
One such app is called WalkSafe and it can be downloaded for free through the Android Market.
WalkSafe was created by researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of Bologna. The app uses a smartphone's back-camera to keep an eye on traffic and calculates whether there is danger using a combination of machine-learning and image-recognition algorithms. (According to Technology Review, this means that the WalkSafe is able to detect when a car is aproaching at 30 miles per hour — or faster.)
Once the app has detected potential danger, it will issue a warning in the form of sound and vibrations. In theory, that buzzing and chirping should be enough to startle you into paying attention to the car that's about to run you over.
It's worth noting that despite how clever WalkSafe is, you shouldn't completely trust it with your life. It's not meant to replace common sense and paying attention, it's simply there to remind you that there are things more urgent than a phone call.
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