You’ve seen them, travellers oblivious to their actual surroundings while absorbed in a smartphone navigation app. Perhaps they’re appraising their latest selfie or texting friends back home as oncoming traffic swerves to avoid them.
In Germany they’re known as “smombies”, a portmanteau of “smartphone” and “zombie”. True to their name, smombies have become an epidemic, causing delays and serious accidents by crossing streets and tram tracks unawares.
But the Bavarian city of Augsburg is taking preventative action. The Guardian reports that city officials are embedding experimental traffic lights directly in the pavement. The hope, of course, is that smombies walking with their heads down won’t cross streets when they see red lights flashing at ground level.
So far, no accidents have been reported at any of these new crossings.