Associate professor Pourang Irani and postdoc researcher Juan David Hincapie-Ramos wanted to find a realistic solution to the ongoing dangers posed by walking and texting, Discovery News reported.
Hincapie-Ramos told Technology Review since phone users are not likely to pocket their devices, the system restores their peripheral vision instead.
The CrashAlert prototype is a tablet computer with a Microsoft Kinect plus a backpack containing a battery and a laptop.
The Kinect camera provides the depth-sensing to detect obstacles and whenever an object or an individual gets within six feet of the user, an alert with red squares near the obstacle shows up on the screen.
Eight volunteers tested the system by navigating a busy cafeteria while playing a whac-a-mole-type game on the tablets and later said that CrashAlert made them feel safer and able to dodge obstacles while continuing to play the game.