Texting while walking in public is usually an arrogant risk marked by bruised shins and near-misses with oncoming traffic. Fortunately for impatient smartphone users, a new app could keep an eye out even when we can't.
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The new system, called CrashAlert, was developed by computer scientists at the University of Manitoba. Associate professor Pourang Irani and postdoc researcher Juan David Hincapié-Ramos wanted to find a realistic solution to the ongoing dangers posed by walking and texting. Since phone users aren't likely to pocket their devices, the system restores their peripheral vision instead, Hincapié-Ramos told Technology Review's Rachel Metz.
Their initial CrashAlert prototype is far more than just an app - it's a tablet computer with a Microsoft Kinect plus a backpack containing a battery and a laptop. The Kinect camera provides the depth-sensing to detect obstacles. Whenever an object or person gets within about six feet of the user, an alert with red squares near the obstacle shows up on the screen.