Reboots are made for walking

Are you driven crazy by people walking into you because they have been looking into their mobile phones as they come towards you? Perhaps you do this yourself?

Regardless, this strange ritual of everyday digital life is here to stay.

So why not for it on quality of life and safety grounds? Everyday activities and places (restrooms, for example) offer design opportunities.

Approaches to Walking the Walk While Talking the Talk

We must all be all familiar with the low-tech approach taken in China for pedestrians glued to their mobile phones by now.

In Europe, urban planners and smart city designers are beginning to explore traffic signals located at pavement or sidewalk level, directly in the eyeline of distracted smartphone-gazing pedestrians (or “petextrians” as they are known).

Some of these systems are being experimented with in Germany.

But, without testing will these improve safety? Who knows, yet.

Smart Strolling

Why not leverage bluetooth, WiFi, geolocation, notifications and audio mobile technology and display the traffic signal and status directly onto the smartphone’s screen? This would alert the digitally-cocooned and blissfully lemming-like petextrian approaches a crossing or junction to danger. The approach would also interrupt any calls or music being played into those petextrian earbuds with a warning.

If advertisements for Viagra or voting for “a certain candidate” running for election can be targeted at mobile phone users, I am sure the same technology is equally up for showing red, amber (orange), or green colours on screen and playing an appropriate sound, (also required for accessibility reasons), depending on traffic signal status and location and detection of nearby moving vehicles (driverless or otherwise!).

Comments welcome.

Images via the Internet and Ultan Ó Broin. Any copyright respected.

Ultan O’Broin (@ultan) is a digital transformation and user experience consultant working with startups and the STEAM community, specialising in conversational UI and PaaS4SaaS. With over 20 years of product development and pre-sales design thinking outreach with Oracle and Microsoft, he also speaks and blogs about UX and technology.

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