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Researchers Build Tool to Help Prevent 'selfie Deaths'

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A group of tourists take a selfie on the peak of Mount Rigi, Switzerland.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a tool that can warn when one is in a location that is dangerous for the taking of selfies.

Credit: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

A growing number of people die every year while taking photos of themselves at dangerous locations, leading researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to look for ways to reduce this risk.

The researchers studied 127 deaths reported from 2014 to September 2016 that were linked to someone taking a selfie. Most deaths involved people falling from great heights or drowning, but taking selfies near train tracks or a wild animal also were factors. The study found men were more prone to take dangerous selfies and accounted for more than 75 percent of all selfie-related casualties.

The CMU researchers developed a tool that can identify whether a selfie posted on social media was taken in a potentially fatal location. The tool looks for indicators such as a steep drop in elevation, closeness to rail tracks, and the presence of guns or wild animals. Dangerous elements were identified with 73.6% accuracy.

The researchers want to build a mobile application that can warn users in real time whether they are approaching a dangerous site, and the app could link to news reports of previous selfie-related injuries or even prevent users from launching their phone's camera app.

From CBC News (Canada)
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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