I recently came across an app which embodies true empathy, not to mention concern, for human behaviour.
Created by New York-based artist and designer, Ekene Ijeoma, 'Look Up' is designed to engage with pedestrians who are often so absorbed in their mobile world that they risk their own safety by failing to look up as they cross the street.
The app uses GPS to determine when a user is nearing an intersection, and on approach, an image of abstracted eyeballs appears on screen, lights up and the phone begins to vibrate.
Not only that, using data from a government database, the app signals the relative danger of the approaching intersection, conveying the number of injuries and fatalities that have occurred at that intersection through the number of vibrations and the number of concentric rings around eyeballs.
The current Pokémon Go epidemic has only further highlighted the danger of self absorption in our mobile and virtual worlds that has seen city governments begin to respond.
On the other side of the Hudson, New Jersey has a proposal to impose fines and even jail time on pedestrians walking and using their smartphone simultaneously. Whilst in Australia, Gold Coast City Council have looked at trialling a German initiative that placed green lights on curb edges that blink in an attempt to keep smartphone-focused pedestrians safe.
The 'Look Up' app is an elegant illustration of the art and power of design thinking and the human centred approach to problem solving.
If you're visiting New York, you can download the app from here. At the time of writing it is only available for Android, as it was developed in conjunction with Google Creative Labs, but the iOS version is apparently due out soon.