Docomo function locks smartphones to prevent use while walking

By Jessica

We all do it, and we’ve all been irritated by others doing it: walking while checking something on your phone. You know that it’s dangerous, but when you are in a hurry and need to check an urgent mail or see if anyone liked your witty status update yet, it’s hard not to just give the screen a quick gander on the go.

Japanese mobile provider Docomo has developed a service to remove that very temptation from your life, though. By setting your Android smartphone to “safety mode,” it will give you an error message if you try to use it while walking. That’s right, cruise control for pedestrians is finally here.

The new, free feature is completely voluntary and even allows you to set the sensitivity of the motion sensor to three levels. Once it is activated, if you try to use your smartphone while walking, you will get this error message:

▼ ”Using your smartphone while walking is dangerous. The phone senses you are walking. Please stop.”

In order to get this screen to go away, you can stop walking, tap the close button on the screen to get 10 seconds of use, or hold down the power button to get 5 seconds of access to your pocket pal.

Of course, since this function is opt-in, it probably won’t do much to stop people who regularly walk and text, but maybe it will stop the occasional cheater and prevent a few accidents.

Source: Weekly Ascii

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Site turns error message into classic arcade game -- Most Japanese smartphone users couldn’t care less about mobile sites -- Sci-fi tech you wish was real

© RocketNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

So basically no Japanese person will use it. Make it permanent!

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

No, we don't all do it.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

We need a device like this here in US too.

There are a bunch of knuckled heads running on YMCA treadmills with smartphones and ipad. They are always checking on their messages. Hope peace be with them.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

We all do it, and we’ve all been irritated by others doing it: walking while checking something on your phone.

No I don't. I don't have a smart phone. Or a dumb phone either. I prefer the company of drug addicts, who at least require privacy when they inject heroin into their veins, over the very annoying public presence of cell phone addicts, who are brain dead.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

How about people watching TV on their NAVI as they drive??? Similar issue.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Yes, we all do it.

I'm glad the article is truthyfulness on this point. 

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The smartphone is a nuisance. It has to strike a balance between an addiction to a normal use. If you live in nature, there are too many things to do to enjoy life, and you would like to be left alone. For me, I like to smell flowers, hear birds singing, and feel warmth on my back in blue sky. No thanks and no smartphone for me.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

It okay when I do it, but man I hate it when others do :)

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I do it. Hate others doing it.Bring it on!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Problem is, NOT every user is a Docomo user, secondly its a setting that can be turned off, which means most people will turn it off, so in the end it will only be like 10 people using this setting. But hey im all for progress on that part.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There are a bunch of knuckled heads running on YMCA treadmills with smartphones and ipad.

Umm... I think you may have missed the point of the DoCoMo app. It's to prevent people walking and using their smartphones from colliding with others around them.

A person on a treadmill poses no such danger.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Title is misleading, since it is a voluntary function. No one will use it. And anyway, unless they did this for regular cell phones as well it would have no purpose, because I see plenty of people old-style phones who walk or ride bicycles while using them. Are companies going to put a lock on maps for those pesky tourists who unfold them to gaze at while walking around? How about newspapers? Bankbooks for those people who study them while they walk out of the bank after spending 20 minutes at an ATM?

It's not a smart phone problem, it's people being stupid.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

It kind of takes the "mobile" out of mobile phone

1 ( +4 / -3 )

So basically no Japanese person will use it. Make it permanent!

It's a worldwide problem.

Actually, people are getting more and more ridiculous. I know one woman who can't walk from the office across the hall to the elevator without looking at her phone. Maybe she is just checking her calls or chats but she is a bloody nuisance all the same.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I hold personal competitions with myself each day to see how many of my fellow pedestrians - the silly ones who are looking where they are going instead of reading Nikkei, selling shares, reading Japan Today, checking the weather in nowhereville, etc. on their phones - I can annoy. :-)

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I'm with @silvertongue and @lesenfant. Can we have an app that locks other people's phones as we walk?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I also read my phone all the time when I am walking because it keeps my reflexes razor sharp:- Am I going to collide with a power pole or Yamada-kun from Accounting out for a stroll?

Walk into a parked car or a bush, a phone box or Miho-chan from the bakery?

So many choices, so little time.....! :-)

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Great feature and when this "trial" becomes compulsory, I won't find my destination anymore using maps o)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And the winner of Most Useless App of 2013 goes to. . .

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I really can't understand the point of this. People who want to use their phone while walking will not enable the option and people who are against using their phone while walking most likely already don't use their phone while walking, so who exactly is their target audience? If you need an application to remind you not to use your phone while walking, you probably shouldn't be worrying about that. Instead you should be worrying about your lack of intelligence and willpower.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It will never be used

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Freedom ?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It seems to be only prevention for Japanese. This would notice users and then save a lot of their lives. This is only for walking, not for riding on train, bus, etc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's not a smart phone problem, it's people being stupid.

Well said Smith.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

great publicity for docomo!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It is quite dangerous, and even worse idiots on their bicycles and cars etc..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It is ok. But maybe I do not use it. I think people should attention to their action themselves. And it is not only for walking including talking while driving and watching TV while driving same problems. It might be prevent use while walking but it is not useful.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just when I thought mobile phone means walk and talk

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

So basically this is for the dumb and the weak who cannot exercise self restraint and simply not look at their phone while walking ?

And why would they set the app anyway if they are that useless ?

If they are that pathetic then they should'nt even have a damn phone for crying out loud. Come on people just don't look at your phone while walking around it's not that hard surely, or do you really need an app for that..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They should make it a mandated service, but to prevent people from texting or calling while driving.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I saw a guy on the Akashi Bridge driving, texting with his thumbs on his smartphone, held in the middle of the wheel as he was driving.

Almost got rear-ended by another guy, probably on his phone (I didn't ask) I saw him coming up at tremendous speed, as I started to change lanes to get out of his way, he saw me slammed on the brakes, spun around in front of me (I had moved over and braked a bit as I saw him fly by on my right) and smashed into the divider in the middle of the bridge. He had to have been fiddling with his phone, I was the only other car on the bridge at that time of night, and he didn't see me until the last minute.

Re: hard is it to step out of foot traffic to look at your phone? You don't lose much time, and you're not like a tree planted in the middle of the side walk.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Walk and talk is fine. Walk and stare at your screen expecting everyone else to clear a path for you is not fine. People doing that are easily as big a danger as bicycle riders on the sidewalk or smokers on the sidewalk. Its inevitable that phones will need to be manufactured with some sort of technology (such as is mentioned in this article) that saves people from their stupidity.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The whole industry needs to install this ASAP. Just as all new cars should have an alcohol test before you drive so should phones have a walk prevention app. Although life will be a little bit more boring, having idiots bounce off me as they walk into The Wall, I'll miss it. Them me, too. Literally.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

how will that work when you try using a map???? That sucks

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The phones are smart, the people who stare at them are not. Blame the source, not the device.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

In other countries, not the same as Japan? And we must concern about using smartphone on driving the car. This function doesn't work on driving, right?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What happens when you're on a train?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Most likely uses a pedometer like the smart phones that your running step. Alternately use the GPS where it checks travelling walking speed.

The tech is out there for some time already.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just call it an etiquette violation. That'll work.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No thanks, teach manners not tech

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Voluntary?? It will not get used. It should be built in automatically.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This feature seems to make GPS on phones meaningless.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It should be said that, many of the mobile phone walker-gawkers use old style phones that don't support apps.

It's quite ironic that thirty odd years ago when mobile phones were introduced everybody raved over their convenience. Now, however, people complain about their convenience.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Inaccurate headline, Docomo has not locked smartphones to prevent them being used while walking, the idea that they would is ludicrous,

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They should also install speedometer to allow texting below preset speed limit.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

No thanks, teach manners not tech

Wow. Really? Manners died out with the dodo. Good luck relying on a resurgence in decency to solve problems in society.

I'll take the tech thanks. If there's a way to lock idiots who text and walk out of doing so, I want it implemented asap. I see people every day texting and/or playing games while riding their bicycles. I am forced to dodge and weave my way down the streets to avoid the plague of zombie texters. Its seriously out of control.

Manners? Haha ... good one though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have been reading books while walking all my life. I'm good at it. I glance ahead frequently, hold place at intersections or when a surge of people comes, use my ears. Decades of doing it. Never a problem.

Playing games or typing requires a lot more of my concentration and that is dangerous.

Looking up and down at a map as I go, is not dangerous.

Sometimes I use paper, sometimes I use a phone.

Same thing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I use my smart phone to map my mountain bike trips. Trails often are not on the map. After the ride I can pair the gps info up with google to plan future routes. If this feature becomes mandatory, mapping will become impossible. I'm definitely not for this. People bump into each other regardless of whether they are using a smart phone or not.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@pizzatime The same way you use paper maps. Check where you are and which direction you need to go, walk for a while to the next landmark/checkpoint, let the map update to your new position, repeat. There's no need to be continuously gazing at the phone map while walking.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well from what I can see, enough peoples brains seem to be fitted with the function to switch off while they are walking, why not put it on phones too?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I bet over 100 people will sign up for this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

walking is such a waste of time, and the japanese use that time to talk. you turn them off and this whole nation will go into seizures

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hooktrunk, I think this function will be linked not to movement of the user in space -- that would make it impossible to use a phone on a train, which is not dangerous in the least -- but rather to the up-and-down movement of the phone that occurs when the person carrying it is walking. This is the technology that enables the pedometer applications that count steps.

At least I hope this is how they do it.

Can we have an app that locks other people's phones as we walk?

Now this is something I'd pay a lot of money for. Some phones can already "beam" your e-mail address and phone number to another user's address book. Let's use that beam to remotely shut down any "walking phones" directly in front of the beam. Preferably with a snarky message that takes over their screen and displays "You would have walked right into me had I not disabled your phone for you. Please look where you're going."

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm with others who said, "No, we all don't do it." I don't have a smart phone and I just shake my head in disbelief at all the people who have their nose in a smart phone or whatever. This is just another example of what I call "An only in Japan."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was on riding my bicycle next to the Tama River when some woman was coming towards me while gazing into her phone. I was going pretty slow and watching her progress while thinking... silly pedestrain, so I rang my bell and the chick gave me a dirty look! lol. Keep your eyes off the phone and on the road you are walking.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Oh Japan... Why are you becoming such a draconian state?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are a lot of people checking something on smartphone while walking in Japan. They also use it while shopping. But they sometimes check not urgent mail. Recently, people who using LINE, are increasing. I guess that people who using smartphone while walking, are increasing at the same time. I think it is very dangerous. People who using smartphone while walking, are sometimes barge against a person. There are a lot of little children in the town. If people who using smartphone while walking, are barge against a little child, there is possibility that they hurt child. I hope we will be able to use this service by all cell phone company.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Big Bob, not really. There's a vid of a woman in an American shopping mall falling into a fountain while texting.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It good idea! But I don't think all user use this service. I'm irritated by using smart phone while walking. We have to do it. I think many people are heavily dependent on smartphone. I'm sure smartphone is very useful but some people are bad manner. They are not smart.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites