There's Not an App for That... Yet - App Week


By Mark Falanga

Photo by Phil Roeder.

‘There’s an app for that.’ Five little words have become music to the ears of modern man when faced with nearly any dilemma. Stuck in traffic and you’re not sure of an alternate route? There’s an app for that. Forget one of the many passwords you need on a daily basis? Fear not, there’s an app for that. If you even need to lighten the mood, and the only thing that will do are flatulence noises. Yes, there’s even an app for that.

So with all of these apps, it seems that everything is possible. People have come to expect their smart phones to fill any void they come across. But technology has come only so far. Here are some apps that you would expect to find, but haven’t been invented yet.

The Ultimate Delete

As we live and breathe in this digital age, it seems that the minute we upload something onto the Internet, it can never truly erased. Recently, Amanda Bynes has learned that lesson the hard way. Wouldn’t it be nice if a secret file, which could self-destruct when remotely activated, was embedded inside each of your tweets or YouTube videos? Well, that technology appears to be just out of reach; people can take pictures of stupid tweets you send and even record YouTube videos. Also, court cases have been decided through social network photos resurfacing that the defendant once deleted. So until that app gets invented, just be mindful of what you post.

X-Ray Vision

This has long been the dream of many comic book readers growing up in the ‘50s. Even though the glasses don’t work, that hasn’t stopped one company from making fake ones to this day. So obviously they do have appeal, even merely as a gimmick. Since almost every smart phone has a sophisticated camera, a reasonable question is whether or not this is possible. Well, truth be told, it is… kind of. In 2006, terahertz radiation goggles, which can see through objects, were being tested in Glasgow, Scotland. Although they were tested for airport security, the fact that they can see detailed naked bodies has not yet been published. As for the app, it looks like peeping toms are out of luck.

Pet Translator

Every dog owner knows that when a dog sticks its rear end in the air with their head down by their front paws, they’re doing the “play bow.” This is about the only time the owner knows what exactly the dog is feeling like on the inside. People assume that when dogs bark, it’s a language, much like human speech. However, in a study done in 2002 by Dr. Sophia Yin, she observed dogs barking in isolation, disturbance, and play. She concluded that although barks do serve specific functions, the acoustic structure of them can vary among individual dogs. So the likelihood of a doggie translator app is just barking the dark.

Sports Pre-Empting App

TV is great. Sports are great. But what happens when a game runs long? Suddenly, the show you were planning to record after the game is only recorded halfway. You’re left feeling very unfulfilled and now have to search the Internet to see what you missed. Could an app simply let you watch your show even if it’s aired later than advertised? Although an app isn’t made, the system does exist. The only bad part is that it’s only available in Europe. It’s called Progamme (yes, that’s how they spell “program”) Delivery Control, or PDC.

To explain it as simply as possible, the TV signal carries a PDC signal which contains something called a Progamme Indent Label (PIL). Once the show airs, the PDC carrying the PIL is transmitted, and tells the home recording device to begin. The PIL for the show is transmitted once per second, so the recording device knows when to shut off. Brilliant! As far as this writer is concerned, every DVR should be equipped with this technology, and if that was the case, an app can’t be too far away. Stay tuned (literally).

So as you can see, apps have indeed come very far, but they still have a long way to go. Perhaps one day in the future, we can see these apps take shape. Until then, we’ll just have to settle for flying cars, robotic gas station attendants, and holographic movies that are due out in two years.