I am currently working as a freelance editor for a life sciences media group, and I am in the middle of creating a slideshow of useful biotechnology- and pharmaceutical-related mobile applications. It’s amazing what some of these apps can do, and that got me thinking – if you let go of realistic creative solutions momentarily, what kinds of imaginative apps would I find exciting and enjoy using?
Coincidentally, today when I opened The New Yorker I found one artist’s answer to that question. Check out the original spread by Barry Britt on The New Yorker website.
Two of the applications Britt illustrates are the Security Wand and the iProjectile. The Security Wand works sort of like the Harry Potter wand application in which you use your smartphone as a wand, complete with specific swirls and jabs, except this Wand is for scanning those around you for dangerous objects. You could see how that could come in useful. The iProjectile, by far my favorite, is most beautiful in its simplicity. The application transforms the smartphone into a shot put-like weapon which can be used against enemies when necessary.
With Britt’s series and the pharmaceutical industry as inspirations, I began to muse, and the following is my “I Wish These Apps Existed” list.
1) Outfit database/suggestion software
Remember in the beginning of Clueless when Cher opens her computer and shuffles through all the clothes she owns and then attempts to make combinations? And when she chooses a shirt and a skirt that don’t match, the system tells her so and lets her keep choosing. Now, after she finds an outfit, the clothes in her closet also move along their motorized racks and appear in front of her… I do not wish that of my smartphone app. Oh no, I am much more reasonable. I simply want to catalog all my clothing and accessories into an application, and then use a search-and-match device to find outfits. As a bonus, I’d like to be able to take a picture of what I’m currently wearing and have the app tell me whether or not it works. When I stopped living with women I lost that help, and I miss it sorely.
2) The Accio spell
There are some cool spells in the Harry Potter series. But the Summoning Charm is, I think, the most useful on a daily basis. Especially if the time and space problems ignored in the HP series were eliminated; for example, what happens when there are solid objects in the way of what is being summoned? But anyway, this would be most useful in the kitchen when cooking, on the couch when tired, in bed when sleepy, etc.
3) Space heater
Relatively self-explanatory. If only my smartphone could, upon activation of an app, emanate heat in varying degrees and amounts and for various amounts of time. I went to Six Flags America with some awesome people a few weeks ago for Fright Fest, and the only dampener on the experience was the arguably unseasonable chilliness.
4) Time traveler
I wonder what would happen with your smartphone if you traveled with it into the future or the past. As far as I can remember, in time travel movies the actual time machine is transported into existence at another point in time along with the traveler(s) and at least sometimes it is used move through time again. Now, if I brought my smartphone with me into the past before the technology was invented, before satellite networks were in place and touch screens had been thought of, could I still use it? How about just the camera?
Anyway. I wish I could go back in time. Not in my life, that just confuses me (though I think I did finally work out the plot of HP III and found it well-done), but to see centuries past and where we manage to go.
Backlights are cool and all, but what if my smartphone could create fire?!
6) Restroom locator (friendly and understanding staff a must)
Okay, so it’s embarrassing and maybe a little early in my blog’s life to be admitting it, but I’m one of those people who goes to the bathroom before leaving for somewhere and has to go upon arrival. This is usually no problem, but sometimes availability is scarce and it would be awesome if I just knew which places near me would be find with me quickly using their restroom. Or, alternatively, if my smartphone would locate the nearest public bathroom.
7) Quick chocolate truffle maker
Though I do like the attempt to incorporate some sort of structure and rules into the universe, it’s a real shame that conjuring food out of mid air is impossible even in Harry Potter’s world – it’s one of the five exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration. And if I could conjure only one type of food it would be dark chocolate truffles. Now, my love for truffles is seriously rivaled by my love for cheese and for fresh tomatoes. But the visceral desire I feel for chocolate on occasion makes this the last of my if-only apps.
I want to say I didn’t mean for Harry Potter to pervade this post, but I do like that its repeated presence shows that what I really want is a WAND!
What’s the coolest thing your smartphone can do? My partner discovered voice control on mine the other day and had lots of fun with it- and Stephen Colbert played with it on his new iPhone 4S in the beginning of his show the other night. We got a glimpse of his if-only desires then too; that or his iPhone responded to his commands with some pretty impressive insight.