General Motors Works on Pedestrian-to-Car Communication Using Smartphones

After displaying future technology that would connect cars to each other to prevent vehicular accidents or route traffic around jams or construction zones, General Motors is now showing off a new piece of tech that would use smartphones to reduce pedestrian collisions.

The technology uses something called Wi-Fi Direct, a Bluetooth-like wireless communication that connects two devices to each other without using an access point like a cell tower or WiFi hotspot. Without the central hubs, Wi-Fi Direct boasts a range of over 600 feet and a connection time of about one second, rather than the seven or eight seconds necessary to detect two objects' positions and communicate them to each other.

Here's where it gets wonky: General Motors technology would use the smartphone in your pocket to broadcast your rough location to cars around you. When a Wi-Fi Direct-equipped car detects a pedestrian or cyclist in your path, it uses audible and/or visual cues to clue you in to their location.

The idea is pretty early in its infancy, and GM admits that one of the biggest hurdles to fully implementing this is the pedestrians themselves: users would have to install and run a program for the system to work. GM predicts that an app like that would gain the most traction with people like bike messengers and construction workers, who spend a lot of their time on the streets interacting with traffic.

As far as the automotive implementation, that's much easier--as we've reported before, General Motors is already working on connected cars with V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) communication devices in them, either through in-dash systems or by connecting to a driver's smartphone. The limitations of V2V communication are few: systems like the ones GM is working on could clue other drivers into traffic jams, construction zones, low-traction or impassable roads or situations, and accidents or other emergencies.

As with all technologies of this nature, don't expect to see anything consumer-ready for a few (ok, many) years, but it's good to see that GM's connected cars program is coming along nicely.

Source: General Motors

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