When smart cities arrive, this is the smart crosswalk we want to see

Do you remember when Steve Jobs showed off the original iPhone, and made a big deal about its virtual buttons, instead of physical ones, because this meant they could change according to each app’s requirements? An innovative new road design concept created by U.K. design collective Umbrellium is applying that same philosophy to crosswalks. Called the Starling Crossing, it’s an innovative, futuristic concept that uses object tracking and LEDs to adjust virtual markers on the road depending on what is happening at any given moment.

“What we’ve done is created an interactive road surface that can display a pedestrian crossing at any location in a road, any size and orientation — even create colored road markings to serve as guidance or warning to people who might be about to get into a dangerous situation,” Usman Haque, one of the creators involved with the project, told Digital Trends. “It responds dynamically in real time to pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers to create the optimum crossing layout and road markings for a given time of day or a given situation.”

For example, should a child run into the road unexpectedly, a large buffer zone could be displayed around them in the smart crosswalk to make their presence and trajectory immediately clear to nearby road users. The  road surface display could also adapt to environmental conditions, such as taking into account wet weather when determining car buffer zones to avoid accidents, or keeping certain polluting vehicles further away from a school crossing. Like a Nest thermostat, the idea is to create a system that’s able to learn patterns over time and then adjust road markings accordingly.

smart crosswalk concept starlingcrossing

“The design of the pedestrian crossing that we are familiar with hasn’t been updated much since the 1940s,” Haque continued. “But these days we inhabit our cities in very different ways: streets are more busy, [and] we have mobile phones in our hands to distract us. When we hear about road technology, so much of it is about [things like] autonomous vehicles. What we wanted to do is create a pedestrian crossing technology that puts people first, responding to their needs.”

The Starling Crossing was commissioned by the U.K. insurance company Direct Line and the design firm Saatchi & Saatchi. Right now, it’s still a proof-of-concept only, although we’d love to see something like this play a part in tomorrow’s smart cities.

“This was the first full-scale working prototype, so there will be plenty more testing and development needed in a future rollout, but we don’t have any specific dates or locations to share at this time,” Haque said.

Smart Home

Dear Instant Pot Smart: I love you. Thank you for changing my life

After taking the Instant Pot Smart WiFi Programmable Pressure Cooker for a spin, one long-time product reviewer finds much to love about the device she long coveted, despite that it’s not really that smart.
Smart Home

Facebook Portal and Portal+ video-calling devices gain new content and features

Facebook's Portal devices are video smart speakers with Alexa voice assistants built in that allow you to make calls. The 15-inch Portal+ model features a pivoting camera that follows you around the room as you speak.
Home Theater

These top-line smart speakers conduct the most sophisticated symphony: Your life

Stuck talking to yourself? Get an A.I. assistant to keep you company! Whether you put your stock in Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, we've picked out the best smart speaker for any smart home ecosystem.

Best deals on smart locks so you’ll never have to worry about unlocked doors

Is your front door locked? We found the best deals on smart home door locks that take the worry out of wondering if your home is secure. You can lock or unlock your doors remotely and some models let you control locks with voice commands.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.