A metro operator set up a monitoring device and announcement system to single out individual commuters caught using their smartphones while walking near escalators or passing trains.
Texting while walking, smartphone walking, however you’d like to put it, is a huge problem in Japan and much of the developed world as we increasingly become emotionless robots practically neurally connected to our handheld devices. Accidents can and do happen to people distracted by their smartphones in places like crosswalks and, especially, train stations, where myriad hazards like passing trains, escalators and other people demand explicit attention.
While most train operators in Japan have been combating the dangerous trend with signs and posters advising the dangers of “aruki sumaho,” the Kansai area’s Hanshin Electric Railways has taken it a step further with this clever commercial.
The commercial begins with producers setting up a camera system and microphones on a train platform. Then, the team lies in wait; watching for unwary commuters using their smartphones while walking.
At this point, the commercial’s producers use the speaker system and video screen to explicitly call out the offending commuter with lines like, “You there, in the pink cardigan. Walking while texting is dangerous!” and “There is currently a mother pushing a stroller while playing with her smartphone on the platform.”
In Japan’s “shame culture,” it’s easy to see how being specifically singled out for everyone to see could be an especially effective reminder that the practice of playing around on your device while navigating the subway is inherently dangerous. In fact, some of the people featured in the video look downright horrified.
Check out the ad here:
Unfortunately, here’s where we have to break down some of the illusion of this creative ad: Japan has extremely strict privacy laws when it comes to filming people in public, so anyone whose face isn’t blurred out (the commuters accused of walking while smartphoning) are either paid extras or signed a waiver after being filmed. And, lo and behold, the end of the video features a short disclaimer admitting the use of hired extras.
While knowing the horrified reactions of being caught are just amateur acting kind of diminishes the message a little bit, we’re definitely hoping the ad catches eyes and puts a stop to accidents before they happen. Although, with the ad being on YouTube and all, we’re pretty sure a lot of people are going to be seeing it on their smart device while, uh… walking through the subway.