Road Safety News

Could smart headphones improve pedestrian safety?

Friday 8th January 2016

New headphone technology which is claimed ‘could significantly improve road safety and save lives’ has been developed by the American audio manufacturer, Harman.

Unveiled at the CES tech show*, an event which showcases the latest global technology, the new headphones allow users to listen to music as normal, but cuts the volume when specific sounds are heard.

Pedestrians have been long associated as vulnerable road users, with casualty statistics reinforcing that notion.

In 2014, there were 446 pedestrian casualties in the UK according to the government figures, making up 25% of all casualties. However, the 2014 National Travel Survey highlights walking covers just 3% of average distance travelled.

Featured on technology website Alphr, Harman says its new technology will allow users to be more aware of their environment in critical situations, such as road-crossing, potentially reducing the amount of collisions and therefore pedestrian injuries.

The technology works through a sensor, in the form of a microphone, which can scan for up to 10 key sounds or “audio triggers” – all of which can customised. These can include car noises, such as brakes and horns.

CES tech show
Also featured at the 2016 CES tech show is the Vehicle Intelligence Marketplace, which explores the road to driverless mobility.

The area features a variety of technologies that support the future of autonomous/automated driving, including parking assist, collision avoidance and emergency braking.

Photo: Kerry Lannert, via Flickr


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Will the headphones be able to 'scan' for the almost silent electric/hybrid vehicles that will inevitably be used on our roads in increasing numbers?
David, Suffolk

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