It may seem like app stores are nothing but addictive casual games, sketchy hookup facilitators and period trackers. But every now and then, something genuinely useful comes along. Take Audio Aware, which is designed to alert "distracted walkers" when there's danger barreling in their direction.
Rejoice, wexters of the world! Return to your Rihanna playlists, earbud-wearers!
According to the MIT Technology Review, the app is the work of a startup called One Llama:
The app, planned for release in March, will run in the background on an Android smartphone, detecting sounds like screeching tires and wailing sirens and alerting you to them by interrupting the music you're listening to, for instance. The app will arrive with knowledge of a number of perilous sounds, and users will be able to add their own sounds to the app and share them with other people.
Whenever your smartphone picks up one of the danger noises, the app will provide a warning, maybe an amplified version of the original trigger. The company's "artificial ear" technology, which they ultimately hope to integrate into lots of wearable gadgets, sounds pretty sick:
When sound enters your ear, it travels through the spiral-shaped cochlea, which is lined with tiny hair cells that vibrate like tuning forks when hit by certain frequencies. One Llama's artificial ear is a software version of this—essentially, a bank of digital tuning forks that measure sounds.
Candy Crush jokes aside, this seems like a genuinely helpful development for the hard-of-hearing.
But Audio Aware also arrives not a moment too soon for those (this reporter included) who're currently strolling the streets of major cities with faces in phones and headphones clamped over ears. That text to say you're running 10 minutes late might seem urgent but, as this recent article in the New York Times points out, it's actually a terrible idea:
Their gait patterns changed. Texters took significantly shorter steps, and their pace slowed. They also "deviated more from a straight line," the study's authors wrote, meaning that with almost every step, they set their feet farther to the side.
If you're already drunkard's walking all over the sidewalk, you probably aren't going to hear that garbage trunk until it's too late.
The safest thing, of course, would be to stop walking and texting. Unfortunately, Twitter is not going to check itself.
Photo via Shutterstock.