Pedestrians rejoice! This app tries to stop people using smartphones while walking

Japanese network KDDI has launched an app which encourages smartphone users to stop using their phones while walking along the street. Science has already confirmed it’s dangerous to do both at the same time, but that clearly hasn’t been much of a deterrent in Japan so far, leading the carrier to take more drastic action.

Once it’s installed, the app waits until it detects movement, and if you try to start tapping out a message, write an email, or play a game, a warning screen descends, telling you to stop walking if you want to continue. Apparently, the app is clever enough to recognize the difference between walking and traveling in a car or a train, and when you’re just shaking the phone. It’s not some absolute electronic overlord either, and whatever app was running before the warning screen appears can still be used to save progress, just with a semi-transparent veil over the top.

When you do the right thing and stop blindly walking around, the app lifts its restriction and lets you get on with what you were doing. If you’ve spent time weaving around on sidewalks, avoiding these multi-tasking maniacs, we’re sure this all sounds like a great idea. There is one problem though, if everyone stops walking and stands stock still so their phones continue working, it has the potential to make life just as dangerous and annoying.

While it’s a step (sorry) in the right direction, we can’t see many people voluntarily installing the app anywhere outside of famously polite Japan, and don’t expect any network to force people to use it either. However, if it stops just one person from falling off a pier while in a smartphone-daze, then it’ll have done its job.

The app is compatible with all KDDI’s Android smartphones running version 4.0 or later, but doesn’t seem to be present in the Google Play store for international users.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: