In the 21st century, texting has become the universal method of communicating and delivering messages quickly and efficiently. But! texting while walking is an activity that can be just as dangerous as texting while driving, especially in busy intersections such as the one my group and I observed at Tech Square. In comparison to those who were not texting and walking, the texting pedestrians were not as alert and often came out into the street before checking if a car was coming. When I recognized the danger of this activity among many of the individuals who crossed the intersection I began to ponder upon an interface that could better alert or warn “pedtextrians,” as they are called according to The Wall Street Journal, to avoid unfortunate accidents.
For this specific activity, many people may mention the claim that a sound or a disembodied voice on the sidewalk should utter the words “STOP” or “Do Not Walk” to improve this activity. While this will be effective to an extent, many people, like myself, will ignore this (1)keynote and become intelligible to the sounds around because we are so absorbed by what we are doing in our phones. Therefore, I believe that the best way to improve this activity is by using an interface that produces a disembodied voice that is programmed on the phones which the users are so engrossed in. They can never miss it because they are on their phone anyway. This interface, just like a navigation system, will automatically warn the pedestrian that they are about to enter an intersection five minutes before they actually enter the intersection. Therefore, the user is aware they need to be alert.
This first disembodied voice will be a female voice who portrays a normal pitched extroverted voice with a medium speech-rate. This voice cannot be too urgent or extroverted because there is no great risk of danger at this time, but when the pedestrian is 1 minute away from the crosswalk, a second message will signal that the person should get off their phone. The voice will of course remain as the same woman disembodied voice because according to Chapter 6 of Wired for Speech by Clifford Nass and Scott Brave, humans dislike inconsistency. Thus, the same woman will speak, but this time her voice will be high-pitched and her speech will indicate urgency. In regards to her much higher-pitched voice, this is useful because in general (2)people respond much better to an extroverted voice even if it may be inconsistent with the personality of the person who possesses the phone. Hopefully with this new interface it will deter walking and texting and help save lives.
(1)Sterne, Jonathan. “The Sound Studies Reader.” Routledge, 2012, pp. 48-53
(2) Nass, Clifford & Brave, Scott. “Wired For Speech: How Voice Activates and Advances the Human-Computer Relationship.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2005, pp. 47-60
(3) Zimmer, Ben. “What Do You Call a Reckless Texter?” Wall Street Journal, 29 December 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/what-do-you-call-a-reckless-texter-1451407390. Accessed 27 September 2016.