South Korea Installs Laser Beams at a Road Crossing to Warn ‘Smartphone Zombies’ of Traffic
In addition to red, yellow and blue LED lights on the pavement, "smombies" - smartphone zombies - will be warned by laser beam projected from power poles and an alert sent to the phones by an app that they are about to step into traffic
A city in South Korea, which has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate, has installed flickering lights and laser beams at a road crossing to warn “smartphone zombies” to look up and drivers to slow down, in the hope of preventing accidents.
The designers of the system were prompted by growing worry that more pedestrians glued to their phones will become casualties in a country that already has some of the highest road fatality and injury rates among developed countries.
State-run Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) believes its system of flickering lights at zebra crossings can warn both pedestrians and drivers.
In addition to red, yellow and blue LED lights on the pavement, “smombies” – smartphone zombies – will be warned by laser beam projected from power poles and an alert sent to the phones by an app that they are about to step into traffic.
“Increasing number of smombie accidents have occurred in pedestrian crossings, so these zombie lights are essential to prevent these pedestrian accidents,” said KICT senior researcher Kim Jong-hoon.
The multi-dimensional warning system is operated by radar sensors and thermal cameras and comes with a price tag of 15 million won ($13,250) per crossing.
Drivers are alerted by the flashing lights, which have shown to be effective 83.4 percent of the time in the institute’s tests involving about 1,000 vehicles.
In 2017, more than 1,600 pedestrians were killed in auto related accidents, which is about 40 percent of total traffic fatalities, according to data from the Traffic Accident Analysis System.
South Korea has the world’s highest smartphone penetration rate, according to Pew Research Center, with about 94 percent of adults owning the devices in 2017, compared with 77 percent in the United States and 59 percent in Japan.
South Korea has started offering super high-speed Internet services for the entire country that will allow universal, convenient access to online data, the government said on Sunday.
“High-speed internet has been designated as a universal service that everyone is entitled to receive no matter where they are,” the Ministry of Science and ICT said.
The ministry said the country’s top fixed-line operator, KT Corp, has been tasked with providing the infrastructure in places that have not benefited from coverage in the past, Yonhap news agency reported.
The move makes the country the eighth in the world to offer universal high-speed Internet to all citizens, but the transmission speed of 100 mega bit per second (100 Mbps) is the fastest by far, the ministry said.
The US, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, Malta, Croatia and Sweden have all introduced universal service, although the average speed offered stands at 10 Mbps for the US with many others getting access speeds of just 1-2 Mbps.
Asia’s fourth-largest economy ranks No. 1 among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in terms of fibre optic cable Internet connectivity penetration, yet it only started deliberating on the need to provide universal coverage in 2016.
The country does suffer from so-called dead zones, where there are no or restricted services, in rural and fishing communities, as well as in isolated homes in mountainous regions, not getting support.
South Korea also has some 880,000 older buildings that do not have the necessary high-speed Internet infrastructure.
The latest move will address the Internet dead spots issue, and effectively end the “data divide” that existed between people with availability to the latest Internet infrastructure and those without, said Hong Jin-bae, Director General of the Office of Network and Telecommunication Policy at the ministry. (IANS)