Smart ze­bra cross­ing warns driv­ers about smart­phone zom­bies

Computer Shopper - - RANTS & RAVES -

RE­MEM­BER THE DAYS when Tufty the Squir­rel would ad­vise pedes­tri­ans to ‘stop, look and lis­ten’ be­fore cross­ing the road?

Those days are gone, and the ubiq­ui­tous ‘smart­phone zom­bies’ have taken over, too en­grossed in their phone screen to pay at­ten­tion to the road. To en­hance road safety, in­sur­ance com­pany Di­rect Line has been work­ing on a smart ze­bra cross­ing with a tech firm called Um­brel­lium.

The pro­to­type, un­veiled in Mitcham, South Lon­don, works by us­ing lights to alert the driver of a pedes­trian who may have walked out into the road un­ex­pect­edly. If move­ment is de­tected by two cam­eras placed at the cross­ing, a thick red line will light up across the road, giv­ing the mo­torist prior warn­ing of a po­ten­tially un­aware pedes­trian.

Per­form­ing like a tra­di­tional cross­ing, the dy­nam­i­cally chang­ing de­tec­tor re­sponds in real time to pedes­tri­ans. The two cam­eras are able to record hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent vari­ables, mon­i­tor the 22-me­tre cross­ing and, if they de­tect a pedes­trian, feed the in­for­ma­tion to the com­puter sys­tem in less than one hun­dredth of a sec­ond.

The road warn­ing con­tains more than 660 LED lights, which can be pro­grammed to change colour and cre­ate pat­terns to dis­play dif­fer­ent warn­ings.

Alert­ing driv­ers is not all the smart cross­ing can do. If lots of peo­ple are wait­ing to use the cross­ing, it has the abil­ity to widen, giv­ing pedes­tri­ans a broader path to walk across. Even cy­clists will be alerted to smart­phone zom­bies, re­ceiv­ing alerts when they’re hid­den by high-sided ve­hi­cles.

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