Thursday, February 19, 2009

An iPhone app that would save lives

To those of you who design apps for iPhones or BlackBerrys or other mobile email/text messaging devices:

They are marvelous breakthroughs of technology, and can be captivating with their color displays, full keyboards, touchscreens, and whatnot.

Here's the thing: Of all the amazing things you have enabled those devices to do, you appear to have overlooked one thing that's not so appealing to those who have them, but would be really swell for the rest of us.

You see, because of their portability and speedy wireless connectivity, people using them are inclined to multi-task and read and/or compose messages while doing other activities. While combining them with some activities are obviously dangerous (such as operating a motor) and will dissuade at least some of the device users (and the threat of getting a citation and a fine may stop some of the rest), there are some other seemingly innocuous ones that need to be prevented, and clearly the users aren't going to stop on their own, so I must call upon your technical expertise.

Please drop everything and devote all efforts to creating an app that detects the user is walking down the sidewalk (presumably the cadence of the stride would register with the device's internal sensors) with activity on screen, reading or composing, and have a message pop up every few seconds that says:


The recurrence of this message would cease as soon as the user stopped moving. There would be no other way to disable it.

Thus they'd learn to stand still while their attention was focused on the screen, and not try to walk-and-read like a pedestrian Flying Dutchman that forces other non-device-using humans to dive out of their way.

It's simple behavioral reinforcement that benefits us all. Non device-carrying pedestrians don't have to swerve around the inattentive device carriers, and the device carriers don't get their asses kicked.

So please develop this as soon as possible and just push it out to all devices. (We all know you can.)

Thank you.


Oh, and once you're done, you may as well get cracking on the next version, which will replace the message with an electric shock of mildly increasing intensity.

(It's not that I don't have that much confidence in this first plan, but it's best to be prepared in case it doesn't work.)

1 comment:

So, what do you think?