We’ve all seen it at one time or another – a person bumping into another person, or a lamppost, missing his train stop, or almost being run over by a vehicle – all because they was browsing on a smartphone while walking. This is something SoftBank Mobile, possibly Japan’s second-largest mobile provider in terms of sales, wants to prevent with the release of a new smartphone app that the company hopes will remind the Japanese public of the dangers of browsing while walking.
The app, called Stop Aruki Sumaho – literally, “stop smartphone-use while walking” – uses your smartphone’s built-in sensors such as the gyro-sensor to determine whether the user is walking, or at the very least in motion, and sends a reminder to the user to stop using the device. At first, a yellow banner will appear on-screen, and at most, the app freezes the screen to disable the use of the smartphone until it detects that the user has stopped walking. While SoftBank realizes that it might only convince a few responsible smartphone users to actually download and install the app, the company also realizes the very real danger of having your face and attention glued to your smartphone while walking. Kids and parents are likely to benefit from this app, which is available for free a download on the Google Play store. No information is available yet if the app is available for iPhone users. “We are hoping it will raise awareness about this serious issue and encourage users to enjoy their smartphones safely,” a SoftBank spokesperson said.
We may laugh and smile at the minor accidents involved – like users bumping into glass doors or sidewalk lampposts. At most, we might be slightly irritated at someone paying attention to their smartphone screen and causing us to spill our drink, or maybe keeping us from catching our train. But apparently, there are more serious incidents than those. The Tokyo Fire department reveals over 120 people requiring emergency medical attention between 2010 and 2013, just because they weren’t paying attention to their surroundings and were using a smartphone, including a 10-year-old boy who was almost hit by an oncoming train because he fell off a station platform while using his phone. Another Japanese telco, NTT Docomo, posted a YouTube video of exactly what kind of chain reaction would be caused if people crossing the busy Shibuya intersection were using smartphones and bumping into each other. The post went viral because of the Japanese cultural content that caused comedic results in the video.
[via Wall Street Journal]