The other day my wife showed me a video of a woman who falls into a fountain at a mall because she's distracted by texting. This isn't the first time such a thing has happened. Earlier this year, another woman stepped off a pier and into Lake Michigan when she was texting. (And of course there was the guy who nearly walked into a bear while texting. Public authorities are starting to create fines for walking while texting.
Fortunately, there's an app for that. The TXT'N'WALK app "promises to let you see where you are going while you are looking at your phone." It
will use the camera found on the back of your phone to show you the pavement in front of you while you access your email or the web on your phone.
"We found that lots of people look at their phones while they are walking", said a spokesman for the company Looflirpa who makes the app. "This way you can do so without the fear of walking into someone - or a lamppost".
Likewise, the similarly-named Type N Walk app "displays a transparent viewport of what's directly in front of you. This combined with your peripheral vision is just enough visual information to help you avoid obstacles -- like walking face-first into a tree!"
The idea that you could stop and text appears to be too simple to even consider. Far better to have a technology that gives the feeling of solving the problem. And seriously, it is a problem, not just a potential source of embarrassment and an hour's entertainment on Digg. Stony Brook University researchers conducted a study on talking and cellphone use that found that rather than being "natural and easy,... it could be dangerous and result in walking errors and interfere with memory recall." Awesome.