In another example of how smartphones can invade our senses to such an extent we become oblivious to where we are or where we’re going, a Taiwanese tourist in Australia has ended up in the sea after walking off the end of a pier while checking her Facebook page.
Thankfully the woman was fine, as was her smartphone, which she kept a firm grip of throughout her ordeal.
The pier in question was in St. Kilda, Melbourne, and judging from the photo below, it’s easy to see how someone not paying full attention could end up in the water.
Senior Constable Dean Kelly of Victoria police told ABC News that after responding to an emergency call from a witness, officers discovered the woman floating a short distance from the pier.
“She was still out in the water lying on her back in a floating position because she told us later that she couldn’t swim,” Kelly said, adding, “She still had her mobile phone in her hand and initially she apologized… she said, ‘I was checking my Facebook page on the phone and I’ve fallen in’.”
As smartphone ownership continues to spread around the world, this won’t be the last time we hear of someone walking off the edge of a pier, off a cliff, onto a highway, or into an industrial freezer while checking their Facebook page or some other social media site.
It’s already happened plenty of times – earlier this year, a British woman by the name of Laura Safe plunged into a canal while texting her boyfriend. Then there was American Bonnie Miller, who fell into an Indiana river while using her phone. And in an incident of a slightly different nature, some guy in Texas drove off a bridge apparently just after sending a message which said, “I need to quit texting.”
Data published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2012 found that more than 1,150 people in the US were treated in hospitals in the space of 12 months after being involved in so-called ‘distracted walking’ incidents, marking a four-fold increase over the previous seven years.
What we could be looking at in the not-too-distant future is the incorporation into smartphones of technology similar to Juan David Hincapié-Ramos’s CrashAlert system, which uses sensors to analyze the surroundings of a walking handset user, alerting them to potential hazards. Juan’s system is currently a prototype device, and a bulky one at that, but with further development it could certainly help smartphone-obsessed folk avoid some embarrassing or potentially dangerous incidents.