App Gives Older People More Time to Cross the Street

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Crosswalk signals don’t take into account how quickly different kinds of pedestrians can walk across the street. But maybe they should. A new app currently being tested in the Netherlands allows older people to hold traffic for longer, allowing them more time to cross the street, according to The Guardian.

The Crosswalk app, made by the Dutch transportation technology company Dynniq, alerts traffic signals that someone with mobility issues is waiting. Using GPS and the software that runs the traffic signals, the technology helps traffic signals detect if someone using the app is standing on the corner. If so, the traffic signal’s timing will adjust accordingly.

The app has four settings so that people can adjust how much extra time they’re given, based on their individual needs. That way, someone who only needs a few extra seconds doesn’t leave traffic waiting forever while they’re already on the sidewalk.

The issue with creating a mobile app for older people, though, is that many of them might not be comfortable with smartphones. After advertising in the local paper and holding informational meetings, Dynniq was only able to recruit 10 people to test the app.

Still, there are other possible applications for signal-changing technology. It could be used more generally for people with disabilities or to increase safety during situations like when groups of schoolchildren need to cross the street. It could also be expanded to traffic itself, to create lights that are better timed for bikes (so that cyclists don’t have to start and stop every block) or to create green lights for emergency service vehicles.

Right now, the app is being tested in Tilburg, a city of about 210,000 people, but it's only in use in some areas of town. The current test will run into the fall. If it proves successful, the city will equip more traffic signals with Crosswalk in the future.

[h/t The Guardian]

How to Rig Your Android Phone to Play Old Floppy Disk Games

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Owning a smartphone means you have thousands of games at your fingertips, but capturing the nostalgia of playing a game saved on a floppy disk isn't as simple as downloading an app. Reviving floppy disk games for the smartphone era is a bit more complicated, and YouTube vintage video game reviewer LGR shows you just how to do it step by step.

In this video, spotted by Kotaku, LGR takes an old floppy disk, the same kind you used in your computer class at school, and uses it to play a classic video game on a smartphone. This is made possible with an Android phone, a USB connector, an Android USB adaptor, and a portable floppy disk drive that's about as big as the phone itself. (The hardware doesn't work for iPhones, but if you're an Apple user there are plenty of ways to play old PC games online).

Just inserting the disk into the drive when it's connected to your phone isn't enough to start playing: You need to download a special app that mimics Microsoft's old disk operating system, like Magic Dosbox, for example. Once you have that on your phone, you can use it to open whatever game is saved to your floppy disk.

Because old PC games weren't made for touchscreens, the smartphone gameplay can be a little be a little awkward—but if you're willing to hook a floppy disk drive up to your phone, convenience likely isn't your goal. You can watch LGR's full instructions in the video below.

[h/t Kotaku]

The Blue Light Emanating From Your Smartphone Could Ruin Your Eyes

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We already know that the blue light from our devices is a major contributor to insomnia. Now, a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that our ubiquitous screens pose an even more insidious threat. As Business Insider reports, looking at blue light all day can speed up the process that causes blindness.

For the study, researchers from the University of Toledo shined blue light—the same kind that emanates from smartphones, laptops, and tablets—directly onto eye cells. They found that the light transformed retinal molecules in the eye's photoreceptors into molecules that were toxic to the cells around them. The new, mutated retinal dissolved the membranes of nearby photoreceptor cells, ultimately killing them. In other words: Blue light can cause serious damage to the eyes.

Macular degeneration is what happens when photoreceptor cells in the eyes break down, as was the case in the researchers' blue light experiment. Unlike other some cells, photoreceptor cells in the retina can't regenerate, so if enough of them die, it can lead to permanent vision impairment or even blindness.

This process happens naturally to some people as they age, but blue light adds an unnatural element to the equation. If you spend enough time with your eyes locked to a screen, the quality of your vision could degrade much faster than it would otherwise.

The easiest way to avoid this outcome is to look at your phone less, which is easier said than done. A more realistic resolution to make is to avoid scrolling through apps or opening your computer in the dark.

[h/t Business Insider]

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