A postdoctoral researcher at the University of Manitoba has developed a mobile app that uses depth-sensing cameras to alert people who are about to suffer collisions because they’re staring at their smartphones instead of watching where they’re going. The application, known as CrashAlert, is still in the early stages of development, but in the future it will work on smartphones that are equipped with cameras that can detect their surroundings. Juan Hincapié-Ramos, the app’s creator, tested CrashAlert using a 7-inch Acer tablet connected to Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor. The researcher then had volunteers play a mobile game while walking down a crowded hallway.
The results found that “users took simpler corrective actions early on in their path upon noticing an obstacle, felt safer with our system and use it in unexpected ways to help navigate around the environment.” Hincapié-Ramos notes that there was “no negative impact” and suggests that “even minimal environment information outside the user’s periphery can provide for safer usage of mobiles while walking.”