A new feature from Google called “Heads Up” aims to prevent “smartphone zombies” from staring at their cell phones while walking.
Heads Up uses your phone’s motion sensors to detect that you are moving and your location to determine if you are walking inside or outside.
If it is detected that you are moving while your phone screen is on, it will send alerts such as “Look Up”, “Look Ahead”, “Stay Focused”, “Pay Attention”, and “Be Careful”.
Using your phone while walking can result in tripping and dangerous collisions with objects and other pedestrians – or even in traffic.
Careless smartphone addicts who are constantly stuck to their devices can endanger the lives of other road users as well as your own.
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Heads Up is a new feature – currently only available on Pixel phones – that reminds you to be aware of your surroundings when you are out and about
HEADS UP ALARMS
Warnings from the Digital Wellbeing App when Heads Up mode is activated:
– Look ahead
– Stay focused
– Look it up
– Stay vigilant
– Be careful where you step
Heads Up will be tested in the beta version (before an official release) in Google’s Digital Wellbeing app – but is only available for Google’s own Pixel phones.
However, it is likely that the feature will roll over to other Android phones after this initial beta test.
“If you’ve ever stumbled on the sidewalk or walked on a pole while writing a text message, you are not alone,” said Google Community Manager Camille Vogl in a post on the Google support page.
Heads Up is a new digital wellbeing feature that reminds you to be aware of your surroundings while you are on the go.
“When your phone screen is unlocked and you leave, you receive a gentle nudge to look up and be aware of your surroundings.”
However, the tech giant isn’t suggesting that smartphone users should rely solely on the new feature to keep them safe.
“Please always use your best judgment and use this feature as a gentle reminder if you are distracted while walking,” said Vogl.
Screenshots from Heads Up. Users can choose whether or not to give the feature access to their location
In order to use Heads Up, Pixel users must participate in the beta program of the Digital Wellbeing app.
To activate Heads Up, under Settings, tap Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls and then tap the Heads Up option.
At this point, you need to give permission to track your physical activity so Heads Up knows when you are going outside.
It is entirely optional to allow the feature to track your location.
“Site permit is optional, but it makes for a better experience by identifying situations that are more likely to be dangerous and require your attention,” said Vogl.
Heads Up is triggered when walking. If you have given the site permit, it will also take into account whether you are outdoors or not.
It should work while jogging or running too, as your phone’s motion sensors will detect that you are moving.
Vogl also stressed that digital wellbeing doesn’t constantly monitor or track physical activity and location information.
“Digital Wellbeing doesn’t monitor any other activity and your specific location is never shared with Digital Wellbeing,” she said.
Google recognizes the “safety and comfort benefits of not using our phones while walking.”
The preoccupation with text messaging and social media has resulted in people walking on lampposts, stepping into traffic, and tripping over them.
Sending text messages and scrolling on touchscreens has resulted in a whopping 800 percent increase in pedestrian injuries, according to a study published last year.
Up to 45 percent of pedestrians are distracted by their phones when crossing the street in busy cities.
The University of Calgary Canada scientists behind the study said the injuries associated with it are likely to get worse.
They already account for about one in 25 road safety incidents, the team wrote in BMJ Injury Prevention magazine.
HOW DIFFICULT IS SMARTPHONE ADDICTION?
With the average age for a child now only 10 years old, young people are increasingly relying on their smartphones.
Worrying research from Korea University suggests that this reliance on technology could affect even the brains of some teenagers.
The results show that teenagers who are dependent on their smartphone are more likely to experience mental disorders, including depression and anxiety.
Other studies have shown that people are so dependent on their smartphone that they happily break social etiquette to use it.
Researchers from the mobile connectivity company iPass surveyed more than 1,700 people in the US and Europe about their connectivity habits, preferences and expectations.
The survey found some of the most inappropriate situations when people felt the need to check their phones – during sex (seven percent), in the bathroom (72 percent), and even during a funeral (11 percent).
Almost two-thirds of people said they felt anxious when they weren’t connected to WiFi. Many said they would give up a range of items and activities in exchange for connection.
Sixty-one percent of respondents said it was impossible to go without WiFi – more than for sex (58 percent), junk food (42 percent), smoking (41 percent), alcohol (33 percent), or drugs (31 percent ).
A quarter of respondents even said they would choose WiFi over a bathtub or shower, and 19 percent said they would choose WiFi over human contact.