With some good tunes and and your iPod cranked up, it's easy to become oblivious to your surroundings. Just yesterday, a young New Jersey boy was tragically killed when he couldn't hear an oncoming train's horn due to his blasting iPod. Now there's an app that still lets you crank up the music, but also lets essential sounds from your environment get through.
The Awareness app calibrates itself by using the iPod's mic to listen to the general noise in your surroundings, then if something stands out, it mixes that sound in with whatever you're already listening to. This means that you'll hear the train conductor announcing the next stop, or that approaching train's giant horn. The app also allows for manual calibration, and has a ducking feature that will drop the volume of the music when there's something you need to hear.
This all sounds excellent, but I think it could be improved on. What about a way to train it to respond to certain specific sounds, like the phone or doorbell, or your baby's cry?
The Awareness app works on any iPhone or iPod Touch 2G or later running iOS 4.1, and is available now for $5.