Smart headphones that warn pedestrians about the danger


Smart headphones that warn pedestrians about the danger 

As a response to the growing concern for public safety, researchers are developing an intelligent headphone system that warns pedestrians of imminent danger.

You see them on the streets of the city: people in headphones, as if glued to the screens of phones that do not pay attention to what is happening around. They often do not hear the sound of danger signals: screams, beeps, the sound of approaching cars ... As a result, the number of injuries and deaths for this reason has tripled over the past seven years. For example, last year, mortality among pedestrians in the United States reached its highest level since 1990, writes

To unleash this problem, researchers at the Data Science Institute in Columbia are developing an intelligent headphone system that alerts pedestrians to danger. Headphones are equipped with miniature microphones and an intelligent signal processing system that detects the sounds of approaching vehicles. If a danger arises nearby, the system sends an audio alert to the pedestrian's headphones. The research team is already testing prototypes on the streets.

“We're looking for low-cost, low-power technology that creates a sound alert mechanism for pedestrians,” says Fred Jiang, a member of the Data Science Institute and an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Columbia Engineering.

The Smart Headphones project received a grant of $ 1.2 million from the National Science Foundation in 2017, as well as several awards. The research team includes Peter Kingget, head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Data Science Institute, Columbia, Shahriar Nirjon, professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Joshua New, professor of psychology at Barnard College.

The development of smart headphones is a complex process. It provides for the incorporation of several miniature microphones into the headset, as well as the development of a low-power data transmission system to handle all sounds heard near a pedestrian. He must also be able to identify signals that signal imminent danger.

Researchers use the most advanced data processing techniques. The mechanism will be designed so that people can recognize alerts and respond quickly. Now the team is testing a pilot sample both in the laboratory and on the streets of New York - a city known for its congestion and cacophony of sounds. Joshua New says he will experiment with people to see how to effectively alert pedestrians who walk around the city with headphones.

In turn, Fred Jiang reports that his goal is to develop a prototype and transfer technology to a commercial company: “We hope that the technology will be widely used to help reduce mortality among pedestrians.”

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