South Korea's telecom watchdog said Wednesday it released a new service that locks smartphones when the device detects the user walking more than five steps in a bid to prevent accidents and keep pedestrians focused on their surroundings.
The Korea Communications Commission said it will update the Cyber Security Zone application, designed to prevent teenagers from being excessively dependent on smartphones, to have the program automatically lock the mobile devices when it senses users walking about.
The commission said the service aims to prevent accidents caused by what it calls "smombies," a term which combines zombies and smartphones to describe distracted pedestrians.
South Korea's Ministry of the Interior and Safety said smartphone-related traffic accidents doubled over the past five years, with those aged below 20 accounting for 40 percent of all cases.
The telecom watchdog said most of the accidents happened between 3-5 p.m., indicating that teenagers returning home from school with smartphones were the main victims.
"We hope that the anti-smombie service will reduce smartphone-related accidents among teenagers," the commission said, adding it will also provide similar services for adults as well.