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Quirky Inventions for the Digital-Age Zombies


Zombies are amongst us. And they are tech-savvy (or rather, tech-addicted).

Known as Smartphone Zombies, or smombies, these people walk without paying attention to their surroundings because of their addiction to their smartphones. With a field of vision of only 5% of normal pedestrians, they pose risks of accidents to themselves and others, that even resulted in death in some cases.

To curb these problems, Honolulu in the United States passed a law that allows authorities to fine pedestrians who cross the street while viewing their smartphones.

But other than implementing fines, here are some unconventional inventions for the smartphone-addicted generation!

Traffic Lights of the Future.

With so many people looking down on their smartphones as they walk, Bodegraven, a town in the Netherland, adopted an unusual measure of installing traffic lights on the floor. Using LED light strips, these lights run in tandem with traffic lights – turning from green to red to reflect the traditional Green Man and Red Man signals.

This initiative was done to accommodate pedestrians looking at their smartphone screens instead of the road ahead and are unable to see approaching vehicles.

It seems like this method was effective and caught the attention of other countries – as cities like Melbourne and Sydney in Australia and Augsburg in Germany has also implemented these ideas. Singapore has also joined the game, starting a trial of ground-level traffic lights in 2017, and has since extended the trial for a longer period of time and expanded to more locations after encouraging responses from pedestrians.

Warning: Look Up From Phone Now!

Imagine not only having LED lights on the pavement, but laser beam projected from power poles and an alert sent to your phone through an application when you are about to step into traffic.

This multi-dimensional warning system is what Ilsan, South Korea, is currently doing to warn smombies to look up and drivers to slow down – all in hopes of preventing accidents. With a success rate of getting more than 80% of the drivers alerted and slowing down, this initiative that was rolled out in March 2019 is expected to go nationwide – indicating enormous success.

A Dedicated Walking Lane for the Modern-Age Walking Dead

What started as a social experiment for National Geographic’s Mind Over Masses TV Show that has a sidewalk split into two sections – one for mobile phone users, and the other for non-users, seems to have gotten the attention of the authorities in Chongqing, China.

In Chongqing, a dedicated pedestrian lane has been set aside for those on their mobile phones. This 50-meter stretch has one lane that prohibits mobile phone use, and the other lane allows pedestrians to use at their own risk.

Similarly, the Xi’An city in China has also adopted this idea for their slow-walking mobile phone users and has a 100m route with pictures of smartphones installed along the way to emphasize that this lane is dedicated to the smombies.

Sidekicks: A Possible Aid to Smartphone Addiction?

(Screenshot from Sidekicks’ Promotional Video)

Sidekicks is a project aimed to combat issues of smartphone addiction. It comprises of an alarm clock, projector, a speaker and lamp – some usual items you may find at your house. But the catch here is – they only function when a smartphone is plugged into it and left untouched.

These items each have their own interesting features and specific function. The lamp is designed to help users focus on their work, and after 50 to 90 minutes, it will alert users to take a break. The projector requires two phones to function – encouraging a social moment for friends, and it includes a tiny printer inside for a cinema-styled ticket with their names to be printed on, making it a keepsake for the moment spent together.

However, this is only a design idea and the actual product yet been developed. While we wait for these gadgets, here are some interesting apps that you can use now to help you curb your smartphone addictions!

Turning the Problem into the Solution.

Some would say that it is ironic to use mobile phone applications to solve smartphone addictions but trust us, these applications are not your usual social media applications or gaming applications, and will definitely help you one way or another.

If you are a parent facing troubles with controlling your kids’ smartphone usage, plano (iOS and Android) is the app you need! This app allows you to control your kids’ screen time, where they can use their phone and at what time. This app also helps to protect your child’s vision by prompting for eye breaks and ensuring correct posture when they are using their device. You also get detailed progress reports on your child’s digital eye health to see if they are at risk of myopia.

And if you want to be more mindful of your phone usage, Mute (iOS) is the application to help you! It motivates you to use your phone less, be more present and challenge you to see how long you can go without checking your phone. It also provides progress stats to see how much time you are spending on your phone!

If you want to save the world while being productive, Forest (iOs and Android) is the app for you! You can set a timer for the amount of time you want to focus on something and when you are doing so, you plant a virtual tree linked to your account. All these translate to virtual currency that allows you to plant a real tree – bringing a sense of achievement when successfully donated a tree.

Since we can’t fight against the growing number of smartphone users and smartphone addicts, we might as well do something to help curb the problems associated with these smombies.

So what do you think? Will these innovative initiatives help to lessen the accidents that happen due to these distracted walking?

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