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How To Warn Mobile Phone Users That
They Are Approaching A ‘Danger Zone’

Coastweek -- Last week, in addition to the possible fatal consequences of drivers using mobile phones while at the wheel, we also examined the dangers that pedestrians put themselves at when they use the mobile phone indiscriminately when out and about, writes Teti Kamugunda.

Pedestrians risk being run over by cars.

However they also run the more likely risk of bumping into other human beings, trees, bollards, lamp post and other immovable objects that have been erected as part of the road architecture.

The current incessant pace of life that makes us want to keep connected all the time is the cause of such increased perambulatory risk.

One of the places that pedestrians are at risk is when they are so busy that they step straight out onto the street without realising that they are doing so.

The good peripheral vision that humans have means that even as their heads are leaning downwards to stare at the screen of a mobile phone they are still able to make out that they are on a path or track.

One can thus keep following the track.

The risk comes when the track continues on to a road.

A mobile phone user more often than not realises very late that they have wandered on to the road and if they meet with a distracted driver then the outcome is likely to be catastrophic.

However, help is probably on the way for such pedestrians.

A small Dutch town realised that they had this problem and decided to do something about it.

They commissioned a technology upstart to develop a solution that would warn mobile phone users that they were approaching a danger zone.

The researchers came up with a unique solution that is currently targeted at traffic light control junctions but that could easily be used in other situations and could indeed become a standard for all pedestrians.

At traffic light controlled junctions, pedestrians normally have their own traffic lights that face them so that they do not have to lean on to the road to know the status of the lights.

An addition to the architecture is that of hip level lights that are targeted at motorcycle and bicycle users when they are in a separate lane from other motorised traffic.

The Dutch town will now have light strips on the ground at traffic light controlled junctions.

These light strips will be flashing all the time and will be the same colour as the state of the traffic lights.

This is intended to attract the attention of the pedestrian whose eyes are glued on to the mobile phone whilst walking.

It is intended that they will be angled so that they do not distract other people but will rudely jolt screen gazers away from their pastime.

This experiment is expected to succeed as the trials have been quite promising.

It is expected that once these “clinical” trials have been completed and the technology type approved, it will be rapidly rolled out in Dutch countries and probably into the rest of the world.

Whilst this is the prototype application, we envisage that it is only the start of a whole load of light controlled signage that will be developed to allow for ground mounted information to the pedestrian.

There could be cats eyes that are deployed on the lanes for Non Motorised Traffic (or NMT) to separate users who are staring down at their phone screens whilst walking.

There could ostensibly be ground level traffic lights at intersections of NMT lanes so that human beings coming to the crossing do not bump each other at the intersection.

This idea appeals mainly to towns and cities that have a high population density and also has many NMT lanes and could also consider putting electronic advertising at the same level which is linked to the net so that as one approaches, their internet profile brings up adverts that would pique their imagination with data mined from the social media and other platforms.

It is clear that as time moves on there will be more intrusion into private spaces as the world gets smaller and people get more connected.

The pace of life will continue to increase and our engagement with connected devices will be more intimate.

The same devices we choose to be connected to will in time become the gateway into our world so that the rest of the world is not endangered or inconvenienced by our actions.

As Kachumbari says, technology is changing and fast!

Remember: you read it first at !


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