“ZOMBIE” PEDESTRIANS who stray into the path of vehicles because they are too busy staring at their phone or listening to music could be saved by a new app. WiFi-Honk will alert walkers and drivers that they are on a collision course. Developed by the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the app needs to be running on the phones of both motorists and pedestrians.
It adapts the pulses sent every 100 milliseconds by a smartphone as it searches for nearby wi-fi networks, adding speed (derived from the accelerometer) and direction of travel (from the gyroscope) to the signal. It also picks up the pulses from other nearby phones running the same app and, if a collision is imminent, transmits an audio warning on both phones.
The developer claims that because the pulses are so frequent its system will work for cars travelling at up to 75mph and that it requires no hardware modifications. Users of iPhones still need to keep their eyes peeled, however: the app currently works only on Android handsets.