There’s an app for setting up and managing your business appointments. There’s another one that tells you how active your dog has been all day. Yet another app offers you guidance on what exercises help you lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
All of these are fairly neutral ways in which smartphone apps have made lives easier and more efficient. A simple newsreader like Engage allows you to stay on top of the latest news and views. On the flipside, there are numerous ways technology has moved into areas that are a little too close for comfort. Case in point, there’s now an app that can even monitor the heartbeats of unborn infants.
Just because technology exists for nearly everything that we can imagine, does not mean that we must grab it with both hands. On the other hand, as a business owner, I am fascinated by apps that are harnessing this omniscience that technology has granted them and are becoming intrinsic parts of users’ lives.
What are these oh-so-personal parts of people’s lives that smart apps have snuck into? Is your next business opportunity hiding in a deep, dark corner of users’ lives? Let’s find out.
AA for the digital world.
Millions of people deal with addictions every single day. While there exist programs like Alcoholics Anonymous which offer addicts the support of a network of peers and counsellors who have themselves won over dark times, the relapse rate for such programs stands at 40 60 percent.
Sober Grid is a smartphone app that offers recovering addicts a chance at staying sober by connecting with others in similar situations via an intuitive app. Users can send out SOS signals to the community when they fear they’re on the edge of a relapse. Members who have beaten their demons can share their experiences and offer tips on how to stay clean. The best part of the app is the convenience of a support system at the touch of a button. No more furtive meetings. No more social stigma.
Life advice from digital brains.
Some of the most complicated systems in the world are controlled via algorithms and programmed sequences. From controlling air traffic to optimizing workflows at manufacturing facilities to playing chess against the sharpest minds in the world, artificial intelligence has made strides that were heretofore confined to the pages of science fiction alone. If artificial intelligence successfully manages to make the right decisions in such critical junctures, surely it can help solve your workplace tiff with your boss?
Insight – Story Therapy is just such an app. As individuals start leading lives that are more and more isolated, there are few friends that one can turn to for advice or unbiased opinions. Insight is a unique app that draws on the learnings from the most poignant and well respected stories from around the world and offers answers to everyday problems based on these insights. Sources for these stories include Buddhist legends, Greek mythology, traditional folklore and more. Would I trust a digital answer to a real world problem? Depends on the answer, I say!
Speechless no more.
If you ventured online over the last one year, chances are you saw a whole bunch of people dunking buckets of ice water over their heads in support of ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disease that progressively cripples motor function in patients. Affected individuals become unable to move, eat or even speak independently. It’s not just ALS. Other medical conditions including Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy and autism make speech difficult or unintelligible for the most part among their sufferers. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about 8 to 9 percent of young children demonstrate speech disorders.
An app called Talkitt aims to give a voice to these patients by translating their broken or garbled speech into clear language, understandable by those around them. Though the app is currently in beta, it has already won a bunch of prestigious awards for its innovative technological breakthrough. It recognizes speech patterns of each individual, understands what they intend to communicate and "speaks'’ for them in a voice that resembles their real voice so they can be heard and understood by the rest of the world.
The great part about this app is that it allows able bodied individuals like you and me to contribute meaningfully to those less fortunate by donating our voices to the app’s library.