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Augmented Reality Apps and Pedestrian Safety

augmented reality

Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Share Their Concerns

While augmented reality is fun, we should not discount the fact that in less than ten days, a little less than 114,000 people were injured while playing the augmented reality game Pokemon Go. Today, researchers and pedestrian accident lawyers know that young people are the primary users of augmented reality technology, and they are also the most susceptible to distraction.

The American Automobile Association reports that 59% of crashes involving young drivers, those that are between 16 and 24 years old, happen in as little as six seconds of distraction. This technology, coupled with a lack of responsibility, proved to be dangerous.

What Is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality, or AR, refers to applications and devices that combine the digital with the real. Pokemon Go, for instance, superimposes computer-generated images of Pokemon, or fictional creatures that range from small and cute to large and formidable, onto the view of the real world as seen through the phone’s camera, producing the illusion that the Pokemon are actually appearing in the real world.

AR also applies to devices like Google Glass, SmartEyeglass from Sony, and HoloLens from Microsoft. These are wearables, much like eyeglasses, but they have powerful computers that run applications like GPS, videos, and more. These devices used to be in the realm of science fiction, but they are now available for consumers. However, glasses with AR cannot replace clinical eyeglasses. You have to wear contact lenses before putting these glasses on.

Why Is Augmented Reality Dangerous?

When walking around your neighborhood, a town, or a city, it is important maintain full awareness of your surroundings because a hazard could pop up at any second. AR devices overlay and obstruct your view. When you walk with AR devices, your eyes do not see everything that they should because the pictures, texts, and messages block your vision. As a result, you may not realize if you are approaching a manhole or when a car is coming towards you.

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Playing an AR game while walking may be even more dangerous than texting while walking because AR apps give a false sense of vision. Your phone’s camera may show you what is in front of you, but your vision will be very narrow and the digital overlays will distract you.

When Is Augmented Reality Safe?

Augmented reality apps and gadgets are beneficial to many people, only if used properly. These apps and devices can help people who have trouble navigating their surroundings. Google Glass is a good example. It is an eyeglass that has a camera and sensors like an accelerometer. The device tracks the user’s movements and surroundings on a real-time basis. Based on this data, the device will provide recommendations to make the person safe.

Blind pedestrians will also benefit from an augmented reality app or device. Recently, researchers in Melbourne, Australia developed an app that essentially acts as a pair of eyes for the blind user, transmitting data between the traffic infrastructure and the user’s mobile device. Even if the blind person cannot see the app display, the app can still “talk” to the user. And when it does, it can tell the blind person not to cross if the signal light is still red, or to move forward if the pedestrian signal is go.

Another group of pedestrians who will benefit from this are those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Research shows that people with Parkinson’s disease can walk straight if there are visual cues to guide them. A podiatrist with the disease once experimented in the ‘90s and found out that a scrolling ladder bar, in the form of augmented reality, improved how victims of the disease walk. They do not freeze or stop anymore. If you harness these visual cues, put them on an AR device like Google Glass or a smartphone, victims of this disease can walk straight while crossing the street or while walking on sidewalks, thereby preventing drivers from hitting them.

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Augmented reality produces distractions. It adds layers of unnecessary things that blur your vision.  Although there are some merits to it, the manufacturers of these devices need to exercise more responsibility. Pedestrian accident lawyers will say that at the end of the day, the scientists have an obligation to test their products with all types of people of all ages. And if they discover something wrong, they need to fix it.

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