A city near Seoul, in South Korea, is worried about “smartphone zombies” who wander into traffic while looking at their phones.
Its solution, according to Reuters: a high-tech crosswalk that uses lights, lasers and an app to alert phone-addicted pedestrians that they’re about to be hit by a car.
“Increasing number of smombie [smartphone zombie] accidents have occurred in pedestrian crossings, so these zombie lights are essential to prevent these pedestrian accidents,” Kim Jong-hoon, a researcher at a local university who helped design the system, told Reuters.
Look Both Ways
The system, which detects pedestrians with radar sensors and thermal cameras, warns pedestrians with laser beam projections on the ground and flashing LED lights.
Even stranger: an accompanying app cautions the “smartphone zombies” whenever the crosswalk lights are triggered with a message that reads “wait, a car is coming,” according to CNET.
A similar LED sidewalk light system was installed at crosswalks in Tel Aviv, Israel. “We cannot force them to take their eyes out of the smartphone and into the road. We need to find ways to put the road into their eyes,” head of the traffic management division for Tel Aviv Tomer Dror told the Toronto Star.
Millions of Zombies
According to the Pew Research Center, South Korea has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate — according to the group’s spring 2018 data, 95 percent of the population owns a smartphone, compared to just just 81 percent in the United States.
If all goes well, the system will eventually go nationwide — potentially saving tens of millions of smartphone zombies from road accidents, or maybe driving them even further into complacency.