It has been suggested many times in the past that a lot of the buttons we push on a daily basis may simply do nothing at all, and instead, they are placebos meant to give us the impression that we’ve done something. This includes the pedestrian crossings at traffic lights, where it is presumed that if you pressed the button, the lights would turn to red and cars would stop to let you cross.
However, it seems that in the future, maybe our traffic lights could be smart enough where no buttons are necessary and that they would simply turn red when it detects that we want to cross the street. This was developed using computer vision by Austrian researchers where it uses a camera to scan for pedestrians.
When it detects that there are pedestrians standing in the “right” position that indicates their intention to cross, it will then send a signal to the traffic lights. According to the researchers, they claim that this method is actually about 3-4 seconds faster compared to if pedestrians were to reach for a button.
In addition to being able to scan for pedestrians, it also helps create a dynamic system where if it detects an abnormally large group of pedestrians attempting to cross, it could extend the duration of the greenlight to allow more pedestrians to cross the street. There are plans to begin rolling out this system over in Vienna by a company called Günther Pincher.