Researchers Working on App to Prevent Selfie Deaths


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We’ve all heard the stories: those who pose for a particularly selfie on a cliff, mountaintop, or other dangerous location, and succumb to their death in the process. There have even been recent reports of Pokemon Go leading its users to unfamiliar and unsafe locations. While advances in technology are undoubtedly exciting, it is critical to retain our common sense and take necessary precautions when using newly-designed technology.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have examined hundreds of these “selfie-deaths” to see if they can design something that might help put a stop to this growing trend. Indeed, the number of people who have died while taking a selfie has been steadily increasing. According to a report entitled “Me, Myself and My Killfie,” the researchers found that 15 people died in this way in 2014 — followed by 39 in 2015, and 73 in 2016.

The place where most people died while taking a selfie was India, which has caused police to even dub certain areas “no-selfie zones.”

Nine people died taking selfies in Pakistan, and eight in the United States.

While you might assume that most selfie deaths occur after one tries to take a photo atop a tall building, you would be wrong. There are additional gruesome causes of death as well, ranging from drowning, discharging a gun, getting hit by a train, or being attacked by an animal in the photo frame. Most people who died were aged 24 and under, and roughly 75% of casualties were men.

So far, the tool created by researchers to combat selfie deaths has been mostly able to warn if a selfie is taken in a dangerous location. The tool was tested on photos already posted on social media, and was able to locate known dangerous elements, such as a large decline in elevation or proximity to railroad or to guns, with a 73.6% success rate.

Now, the hope is that the tool can be used to build an app that can warn people in advance as to whether they’re about to take an unsafe selfie. The app’s “red zones” would note areas that are particularly dangerous. Additionally, it would provide reports of selfie injuries and deaths in those areas in the past. The idea is that this would all be done before users find themselves in any dangerous places and potentially prevent you from using the camera entirely until you’re in a safe place.

Until this app is successfully created, though, it is ultimately a technology user’s responsibility to stay focused on the world around them, and prevent themselves from going to dangerous lengths for a selfie.

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