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We at PRS Healthcare, as the leader in the repair of TEE probes, know that ultrasounds can save lives. The benefits of echography in the diagnosis of many diseases, such as heart diseases during pregnancy for example, have been proven. However, ultrasounds can be used in different ways and serve a lot of various purposes, such as ensuring the safety of pedestrians.

A mobile application that saves lives

In France, near Paris, the public transport operator has started testing a new device in March 2020. The goal? To warn the pedestrians who, distracted by their mobile phones, cross the streets without looking both ways.

For now, the news system is tested at one particularly busy crossroad along the T6 trolley line.

“Amy”, a friend who watches your back

The service is called “Amy”. On the smartphone of the user, it receives ultrasonic waves directly from the traffic lights at the crossroad. If a pedestrian crosses the street when the traffic light is red, Amy tries by all means to warn the oblivious walker. For instance, Amy can send notifications or lower the volume of the music. Also, it can make the smartphone vibrate. Even better, Amy can send a trolley honk directly into the headphones.

Other similar applications were created in the past but not with such possibilities. Besides, they used the Bluetooth connection or the camera to locate the phone’s user. Contrarily, Amy uses ultrasounds because it only needs a microphone to receive them, and all types of phones are equipped with a microphone.

The smombies

Everywhere around the world, the “smombies” are a new risk on the road. This neologism, a blend of “smartphone” and “zombie”, designates a walking person, using a smartphone, and oblivious of the world around them. Benjamin Charles, Amy’s founder, explains how he got the idea. “We found out there are more and more collisions between people using their smartphones and vehicles around them. [when looking at their phones] they don’t pay attention to the honk of the car, or the trolley arriving”.

Yet another application to download?

Actually, Amy is more a system than an application per se. In the long-term, the aim is to blend in existing applications. Benjamin Charles agrees: “We are not going to make people download another app because they already have 150 different apps. The idea is to offer a system that can be integrated easily” into a streaming music service for example.

Full-scale test in France and other countries

In France, where our laboratory, expert in the repair of TEE probes is based, the public transport operator was supposed to test the system full-scale right before the pandemic. However, because of the situation, the test hasn’t been completed yet. In the meantime, other countries are running tests, such as Israel or South Korea, as shown in this video. 

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