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Smart shoe tech tested in west Japan city to guard children from traffic accidents

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

MIKI, Hyogo -- Shoe sensors that can track the wearer's location and trigger alerts on speakers at intersections are being tested by this west Japan city to prevent traffic accidents involving children.

    One hundred children at Midorigaoka Elementary School in Miki are participating in the trial, which began on Oct. 20 at a T-shaped intersection near the school that lacks traffic lights, and a local road heavily used by drivers as a shortcut -- which has been pointed out as dangerous.

    The participants wear shoes fitted with sensors. When the system installed at the two spots detects the wearer is close, loudspeakers will emit a vocal warning to watch out for cars. The announcements are typically voiced by a student who belongs to the school's broadcasting committee, but the voices of teaching staff will also be used in the future along with other information so that students don't become too used to them.

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

    A Toa Corp. security camera and loudspeaker are seen at a location where children walk to school, in the city of Miki, Kobe Prefecture, on Oct. 25, 2022. (Mainichi/Yasuhiro Okawa)

    Security cameras are attached to the loudspeakers, and will record video to later analyze the causes of any accidents. Data will be collected for four months at several locations.

    The city and the two companies have entered into a comprehensive partnership agreement. They intend to use the new technology to improve public services, such as looking after seniors.

    (Japanese original by Yasuhiro Okawa, Akashi Local Bureau)

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