Today sees the public launch of Proximatech, a new mobile phone app which promises to revolutionise the way we travel.
Utilising new advances in geospatial technology, Proximatech takes a fresh approach to personal transport planning. Directional sensors in your smartphone are used to detect the presence of physical obstacles in the immediate vicinity as you move around within streets and buildings. A sophisticated GPS database then cross-references these signal patterns with known obstructions, determining whether or not evasive action might be required. Text alerts are posted directly to the screen display, seamlessly embedded into existing content, allowing the user to anticipate and avoid potential collision activity.
In short, Proximatech allows mobile users to avoid bumping into things without ever needing to look up. It is an innovation whose time has come.
Designer Paul Collins came up with the idea for Proximatech in London last year. "I noticed while walking along the pavement that many of the people heading towards me were staring intently at their phones. Some were merely reading, others busy watching a video, but all were completely oblivious to their immediate environment. [In 3 paces, step left] One was so transfixed by her screen that she stepped off the pavement without looking and narrowly missed a passing bike. Proceeding across the road she nearly stumbled in the gutter, then headed straight towards me on a direct collision course. As I stepped swiftly to one side to avoid sudden impact, I knew I could utilise my coding skills to engineer a solution to this 21st century problem." And so Proximatech was born.
Proximatech uses satellite technology to pinpoint the location of potential threats to a user's immediate forward progress. [In 3 paces, step right] As Paul explains, recent innovations in electronic data capture mean that every item of street furniture is already stored as digital cloud-based information. Be it kerbstone, wall or lamppost, Proximatech already knows your local high street better than you, helping to protect you and those around you as you pass. [Warning, litter bin ahead] Meanwhile the ubiquity of 3G-enabled devices ensures that even moving targets can be narrowed down with precision, enabling Proximatech to triangulate adjacency coefficients and provide user alerts in real-time.
But where Proximatech really triumphs is in its ability to insert instant messaging directly into existing smartphone content. Proximity alerts may appear as highlighted text within online articles, or as individual updates in social media timelines. Paul has forged an agreement with Twitter whereby cautions are dropped directly into the livestream, appearing as priority tweets with a red highlighted background. [Bicycle approaching from right] Similar negotiations with Facebook allow for personalised alerts to be embedded with the newsflow, enabling the user to take priority evasive action as circumstances require without ever breaking off from downward scrolling.
"What's really exciting," says Paul, "is the groundbreaking technology which enables our warning messages to be included seamlessly within dynamic video output. [Pushchair approaching] Say you're watching a feature film whilst walking obliviously towards a pillar box, one of our animated characters will pop up from offscreen and offer cautionary advice as part of the ongoing drama. [Pushchair collision imminent!] We also have a deal with YouTube whereby dangerous manoeuvres switch presentation to one of our suite of two-second redirectional videos, perhaps Step Right, Sharp Left! or Halt!!! [Abort! Abort!]"
It's been a real gamechanger, according to Shoreditch resident Miriam Delfuego. "It's like having a third eye," she says. "Before Proximatech I used to bump into people all the time because I was too busy playing Candy Crush rather than looking where I was going. [Crossing lights are at red] Once I even caused a major pile-up outside Dalston Junction by stepping in front of a bus which was forced to take immediate evasive action. Now I can wander the streets as self-absorbed as I like, in total safety, thanks to timely onscreen prompts from Proximatech.
Since going live, Proximatech has already won several awards including the Manchester Allcomers Health and Safety App Award 2013. [Nearly at bottom of staircase, slow down] The app has been benchmarked by the Metropolitan Police as part of its Safer Streets initiative, with community rollout planned across inner London youth clubs throughout the remainder of the year. Now even Transport for London are interested, particularly given the possibility of nudging visitors to the capital onto the right-hand side of escalators in several different languages.
By piggybacking Apple and Samsung chip capability, Proximatech may already be enabled on your phone or tablet. A preview service has been made available today across the London area in order to familiarise potential users with the service's capability. [Beware taxi turning right] If red messages are appearing in your livestream then your device is part of the pilot and you may already have been saved from accident or injury thanks to opportune digital intervention. [Sidestep left around puddle] However from midnight Proximatech becomes subscription only and new users will have to pay to continue to receive Ambulatory Alerts™.
If you're a member of London's heads-down army, be sure to sign up to Proximatech today. You'll get to enjoy all the benefits that a safer self-aware journey brings. And the rest of us would love you to look where you're going occasionally. [ffs]