Every year the number of accidents involving pedestrians using their mobile telephones to write or read messages as they walk down the street is increasing exponentially. Focusing our attention on this task reduces our visual and cognitive ability to such an extent that a broken paving slab, a step, a traffic sign or another pedestrian crossing our path can become a hazard, apart from the danger of invading the pavement. In fact, a search for “distracted walking” on YouTube will provide dozens of videos which have captured all kinds of real collisions. A new word, wexters – walking texters – has even been coined for people who cannot stop interacting with their mobile on the street.
Some countries have taken measures to raise awareness of the risks presented to physical integrity, “losing the world of sight,” due to texting, searching on the Internet, using social networks or receiving messages on mobiles as they walk. There have been infomercials, fines, bumpers placed on lampposts, etc. The company Docomo, for example, has made a risk prevention video which shows what would happen in Tokyo if the whole population didn’t take precautions in the most populated streets. (See below.) Nevertheless, accidents are still occurring.
Apple has just applied for a patent to manufacture a new mobile telephone designed to prevent this problem. The new device will incorporate a camera system which will produce a transparent effect on the screen when we begin to write, so that we can visualise our surroundings as we are moving.
There are already various applications on the market with a similar purpose, but it seems that the Apple application will unify and improve existing apps.