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New app aims to keep people safe while texting and walking
AFP
March 10, 2014
First Published: 10:47 IST(10/3/2014)
Last Updated: 11:08 IST(10/3/2014)

New York's One Llama Labs has an app on the way to help those who text and walk stay out of  harm's way.

Entitled One Llama, the app scans for surrounding danger via sounds such as screaming, sirens, tire squeals and more. As reported by MIT Technoloy Review, the app features such sounds in its memory bank, and "listens" through smart device microphones, comparing sounds to those in its bank. When the device finds a match, or one that's close enough, it switches off whatever the person is listening to and replaces it with a louder version of the sound.

Research from the University of Buffalo supports the notion of texting and walking as potentially dangerous. According to an announcement from the university this week, texting while walking was found to be more dangerous than texting while driving, with issues including walking into traffic, bumping into walls, falling down stairs and tripping over clutter.

"When texting, you're not as in control with the complex actions of walking," says University of Buffalo professor Dietrich Jehle, MD, who also works as an attending physician at Erie County Medical Center, a regional trauma center in New York. "While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can't see the path in front of you."

Jehle notes three types of distraction pedestrians face: manual, when they're busy doing something else; visual, when they see something else; and cognitive, when their minds are elsewhere. Tens of thousands of US pedestrians end up in emergency rooms each year, with Jehle believing at least 10 % of these accidents involving cell phones. He says the percentage is probably higher, but that patients tend to "underreport" accident cause due to embarrassment.

Texting is hardly the only distraction these days, with people updating their Facebook status or scrolling through their Twitter feed rather than paying attention to where they're going. A study from Ohio State University found the number of pedestrian emergency room visits for cell phone-related injuries tripled between 2004 and 2010. The study also found that those most susceptible to such injuries were between the ages of 16 and 25.

The One Llama team developed the app for Android and has not provided a release date. An iOS app is also in development.


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