We've all seen viral videos of people paying more attention to a phone than where they're going. The results are generally comical: tripping, falling or running into something. It's not always funny though. Some phone-obsessed people, referred to as "smartphone zombies" in popular culture, are becoming injured in road accidents.
To combat the problem, the South Korean city of Ilsan has reportedly installed a system at a crosswalk that alerts pedestrians and warns cars to slow down. Thermal imaging and radar detect approaching people and cars, according to a Monday report from Reuters.
The crosswalk glows with colorful, flickering lights and laser beams warning people to look up and drivers to slow down. The system, designed by the state-run Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology, pairs with an app that sends a warning message when the crosswalk lights are triggered. It says "Wait. A car is coming," according to Reuters.
An "increasing number of smombie [that's short for smartphone zombie] accidents have occurred in pedestrian crossings, so these zombie lights are essential to prevent these pedestrian accidents," said Kim Jong-hoon, a senior researcher for the KICT, according to Reuters. The KICT didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
So far, there's only one crosswalk warning system installed. The price tag is a steep 15 million won, or $13,250, per crosswalk, according to Reuters. The system's developers expect South Korean government officials to adopt the program nationwide.
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