CLOSE
Original image
iStock

Japan’s Shower Habits Mean Nearly Every Phone There Is Waterproof

Original image
iStock

If you’re dissatisfied with the waterproof phone options available in the States, consider moving to Japan. Mashable reports that nearly every smartphone sold in the country is waterproof. Anyone who’s been thrown into a pool fully clothed or dropped their device in the toilet knows how useful this feature can be, but it’s become widespread in Japan for one reason in particular: Women are so attached to their phones that they can’t resist taking them into the shower.

Water-resistant phones have been the norm in Japan for over a decade. At the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Panasonic executive Taro Itakura told AFP, "In Japan, you can't sell a phone if it's not waterproof. About 90 to 95 percent of all phones sold now are already waterproof.”

Even LG, which doesn’t plan to launch their waterproof phones globally anytime soon, has adapted to the quirky phone habits of Japanese consumers. They didn’t even attempt to sell their modular G5 phone in Japan because it would have been impossible to seal. As LG's global communications director Ken Hong told Mashable, "In Japan, being waterproof is far more important than being able to remove your phone's battery.”

Water-resistant phones are slowly becoming popular in the United States, with Samsung, Sony, and Apple all embracing the trend. But while the tech is advancing, it shouldn’t be taken as an invitation to treat your phone like a pool toy. Phone companies discourage submerging your phone underwater, because even if the moisture doesn’t cause damage, salt and added chemicals might.

[h/t Mashable]

Original image
Courtesy Umbrellium
arrow
Design
These LED Crosswalks Adapt to Whoever Is Crossing
Original image
Courtesy Umbrellium

Crosswalks are an often-neglected part of urban design; they’re usually just white stripes on dark asphalt. But recently, they’re getting more exciting—and safer—makeovers. In the Netherlands, there is a glow-in-the-dark crosswalk. In western India, there is a 3D crosswalk. And now, in London, there’s an interactive LED crosswalk that changes its configuration based on the situation, as Fast Company reports.

Created by the London-based design studio Umbrellium, the Starling Crossing (short for the much more tongue-twisting STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) changes its layout, size, configuration, and other design factors based on who’s waiting to cross and where they’re going.

“The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way,” the company writes. That means that the system—which relies on cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor both pedestrian and vehicle traffic—adapts based on road conditions and where it thinks a pedestrian is going to go.

Starling Crossing - overview from Umbrellium on Vimeo.

If a bike is coming down the street, for example, it will project a place for the cyclist to wait for the light in the crosswalk. If the person is veering left like they’re going to cross diagonally, it will move the light-up crosswalk that way. During rush hour, when there are more pedestrians trying to get across the street, it will widen to accommodate them. It can also detect wet or dark conditions, making the crosswalk path wider to give pedestrians more of a buffer zone. Though the neural network can calculate people’s trajectories and velocity, it can also trigger a pattern of warning lights to alert people that they’re about to walk right into an oncoming bike or other unexpected hazard.

All this is to say that the system adapts to the reality of the road and traffic patterns, rather than forcing pedestrians to stay within the confines of a crosswalk system that was designed for car traffic.

The prototype is currently installed on a TV studio set in London, not a real road, and it still has plenty of safety testing to go through before it will appear on a road near you. But hopefully this is the kind of road infrastructure we’ll soon be able to see out in the real world.

[h/t Fast Company]

Original image
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
How to Make Sure Your Cell Phone Receives Emergency Alerts
Original image
iStock

Thanks to smartphones, we’re more plugged into the world than ever before. Some of us receive notifications for everything from Amber Alerts to trending news stories, so it makes sense that we’d also depend on our phones to alert us to emergencies in our neighborhoods. But as The Daily Dot reports, relying on your cell phone alone for such news might leave you in a dangerous situation.

Unlike Amber Alerts, local notifications for natural disasters like wildfires don’t operate on a broad alert system. If counties were to contact every single resident every time a specific area was threatened, it would lead to traffic jams and unnecessary panic, putting more lives at risk. So instead, the police only contact people in their database that live in the affected location.

The Reverse 911 law allows law enforcement to contact you at your home in case of emergencies. If you have a landline you can expect to get the call there, but because the law was enacted before the age of cell phones, receiving a call anywhere else isn’t guaranteed. To make sure your county knows to contact you on your cell phone, you need to reach out to them and ask for that number to be listed as your primary mode of contact. Just over half of all households in the country use cell phones for all personal phone communications, which means that most Americans need to opt in to receive life-saving emergency notifications.

Fortunately, getting your cell number into your county’s database isn’t hard. You can starting by searching your county’s name and “emergency alert” online. There’s no uniform system across the U.S., but on Los Angeles County’s emergency alert page, for example, residents are asked to indicate their name, address, phone number, and the type of alerts they wish to receive. This information can be updated at any time—so if you get a new phone number, make sure your local police department is one of the first to know.

[h/t The Daily Dot]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios