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Day 11: The World of Apps

The world of apps is a strange and at times scary place. From facial recognition software to the Klout Tile that tells you how popular you are, there is an app for everything. Not all of them are as trivial as Angry Birds, though. There are plenty of useful ones. Here are some of my favorite unusual apps.

1) Oh Music, Where Art Thou? – Designed for cyclists, this smartphone app works like an aural GPS. It plays music directionally through the headphones of the cyclist. The sound comes from the direction the cyclist needs to go in and it gets louder as the destination is approached. I suppose it’s stadium-loud when you get there.

2) Glasses Off (Ucansi) – This app trains trains older (as in 50 and up) people to see better. Actually to not see better, but to learn how to interpret what they see better. As people age, their eyes have a harder and harder time focusing. The images they see become blurry. Glasses Off trains the brain to interpret the blurriness. The app costs $90 and in three months of 3 times a week, fifteen minute training sessions, your sight will be that of someone ten years younger.

3) Instant Wild – This iphone app takes advantage of crowd sourcing to record animal sitings. It connects users to motion sensitive cameras in wild habitats of Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia. When the camera senses motion, it sends a signal to the app-bearer who can then identify the animal and add the siting to a database. With the vast amount of animals creating motion and getting their picture taken, the more people identifying these sitings, the less work there is for increasingly under-funded researchers.

4) mFarm – Speaking of Kenya, there’s a group of farmers there that have gotten together to create their own app. They use it to check current market prices and send each other information using SMS (short message service) notifications. By the way, that’s the mFarm team up in the image for today’s post.

5) Crashing satellite tracking app – Both NASA’s UARS satellite and DLR’s ROSAT X-ray telescope fell from the sky recently. Both incidents had apps (UARS app and ROSAT Reentry) you could use to track the progress of the descent. That way you could determine if you needed to seek cover. I don’t believe there’s anything scheduled to fall to the earth any time soon, but do keep that little tidbit in the back of your mind for the next time.

Thanks for reading. Hey, if you’ve got any leads on weird science, mention them below or contact me through the form. I’ll check ‘em out.

Sue Lange

Sue Lange’s latest ebook, Tritcheon Hash, is full of lapses of logic and weird science. “It’s a wild, good read.” Get your copy from Amazon or read a couple of free chapters at the publisher’s website.

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