Smart shoe tech tested in western Japanese city to protect children from traffic accidents

A unit that transmits the location information of the wearer is seen next to a pair of Asics shoes in Miki city, Kobe prefecture on October 25, 2022. (Mainichi/Yasuhiro Okawa)

MIKI, Hyogo — Shoe sensors capable of tracking the location of the wearer and triggering alerts on loudspeakers at intersections are being tested by this western Japanese city to prevent traffic accidents involving children.

About 100 children from Midorigaoka Elementary School in Miki are participating in the trial, which began Oct. 20 at a T-shaped intersection near the school that lacks traffic lights, and a busy local road by drivers as a shortcut — which has been flagged as unsafe.

Participants wear shoes equipped with sensors. When the system installed at the two spots detects that the wearer is close, loudspeakers emit a voice warning to watch out for cars. Announcements are usually voiced by a student who belongs to the school’s broadcast committee, but teachers’ voices will also be used in the future along with other information so students don’t get too used to them.

The trial – the first of its kind in Japan – is being conducted in cooperation with Asics Corp. from Kobe and Toa Corp., which respectively provided their footwear and sensor-laden security camera technology.

A Toa Corp security camera and speaker. are seen at a place where children walk to school, in Miki city, Kobe prefecture, on October 25, 2022. (Mainichi/Yasuhiro Okawa)

Security cameras are attached to the speakers and will record video to later analyze the causes of any accidents. Data will be collected over four months at multiple locations.

The city and the two companies have concluded a global partnership agreement. They intend to use the new technology to improve public services, such as care for the elderly.

(Japanese original by Yasuhiro Okawa, Akashi Local Office)

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