City of Augsburg / N-TVDistracted smartphone users will be alerted about when it’s safe to cross the road, after a neat pilot traffic light system was launched in a German city.
Authorities in the city of Augsburg—which is roughly 35 miles from Munich—have embedded rows of LEDs into the pavement.
They will flash red when the crossing is closed to pedestrians.
According to German television station N-TV, it has become necessary to bring in what is a novel approach to controlling pedestrian movement, after a 15-year-old girl, who was wearing earbuds and looking at her smartphone, was killed when she stepped in front of a tram.
“We have the additional lamps installed on two crossings that are especially frequented by the relevant target group,” said the city’s spokesperson Stephanie Lermen.
The first two pavement traffic lights, or “bompeln” (which is a combination of “boden” and “ampeln,” literally “ground traffic lights”), have been installed near the local university.
They’re aimed particularly at young people and commuters, who tend to be too consumed by their smartphones to look up at the conventional traffic lights system.
“We’ll see how that is received,” Lermen said, adding that in her opinion the new traffic lights create “a very different attention.”
The problem addressed by the Augsburg authorities has been widely ridiculed by Germans. Last year, dictionary publisher Langenscheidt chose “smombie” as the Youth Word of the Year.
Derived from “smartphone” and “zombie,” the word clearly relates to the main target audience for “bompeln.” Its main competitor for the title of Youth Word of the Year was “merkeln”—a verb derived from the chancellor’s last name meaning “to do nothing,” or “to decide nothing.”
This post originated on Ars Technica UK