Cell Phones May Soon Be Used to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents

Cell phones and vehicles equipped with a new technology currently undergoing field testing may be able to determine whether a car should stop before pedestrians walk in front of them. While current technology enables vehicles to have sensors installed, those sensors are very close proximity, and by the time they pick up a moving person, human reflexes aren’t fast enough to stop the car. The new technology relies on an embedded broadcaster equipped with a built-in AI functionality to predict behavior, and once the person is close to a location where they might be involved in an accident, it starts emitting a beacon that the car can sense and avoid.

The startup Visiblezone out of Israel has been working to improve the technology to a level where consumer devices can include it in its hardware. The new technology has the benefit of not needing specialized equipment installed to work since it operates from within the vehicle and the smartphone itself. It also has the additional perk of not even needing a network connection, since the signal is beamed directly from the handset, so even in a congested network situation, the technology will function. The company isn’t interested in having users install an app, but is aiming at having smartphone manufacturers embed the technology into their handsets. The system depends on a two-point collaboration, so car manufacturers will also need to install the required hardware in their vehicles.

A Stopgap Measure?

While Visiblezone’s technology is an exciting step forward in safety, it depends heavily on the drivers as well. Drivers need to heed warnings the system offers, including those from oncoming pedestrians, but also in low-light visibility situations. In some cities, authorities have already erected cameras at particularly dangerous intersections, and this technology can be a useful aid to those existing measures. However, if self-driving cars become a thing in the time frame that large tech companies are aiming for, then this bit of tech might offer peace of mind to those who don’t trust vehicles to steer themselves without running into people.