Skip to Content

Smart-Phone App Warns Pedestrians of Oncoming Cars

WalkSafe beeps and vibrates a phone when its owner is in the path of a fast-moving vehicle.

Researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of Bologna in Italy have developed an Android app that uses the camera on a smart phone to detect oncoming traffic.

The app relies on machine-learning and image-recognition algorithms to identify the fronts and backs of vehicles, and takes into account varying light conditions, phone tilt, and blur. When WalkSafe detects a car approaching at 30 miles per hour or faster, it vibrates the phone and makes a sound to alert the distracted user.

Andrew Campbell, professor of computer science at Dartmouth and head of the Smartphone Sensing Group, says the app also exploits phone APIs to only run the vehicle-detection algorithm during active calls, saving the phone’s battery.

Using a Nexus One phone, the researchers show that WalkSafe could reliably detect oncoming cars as far as 50 meters away from pedestrians (see the video above). They now plan to speed up the recognition algorithm to improve the app.

Now all we need is a system to alert people who text and walk.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.