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TECH: Weird Apps and Accessories
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When Apple opened the first app download store on July 10 2008, it started an explosion in application software development. After only 5 years, the company has a library of over 80,000 apps available and has achieved over 40 billion app downloads. 
Unsurprisingly, competing mobile operating systems, including Android and BlackBerry, quickly introduced equivalent market places. Together they provide a vast and completely new playground, not just for gamers, but also for third party developers keen to show their ingenuity and earn a few dollars.
Trism was an early success winning a handful of gaming awards and more importantly for the developers- USD 2 million within a year. More recently, ‘Puzzle and Dragons’ is reportedly generating up to 75 million USD a month and ‘Clash of Clans’, the current most profitable download, rakes in USD 1 Million a day. 
There is clearly gold in phone apps and not just for games. Few will strike it as rich as 17-year-old, Nick D'Aloisio, inventor of the news app ‘Summly’, but so long as fortunes are to be made, there will be plenty of prospectors hoping to create the next must-have app. It does not need to be that smart or even that useful. It needs only to tap into a rich vein of popularity in the same way as the ‘iFart’, the app that transformed the mobile phone into a puerile flatulence machine and the developer into a millionaire.
With so much choice of apps on the market there are plenty hoping to get a whiff of that same success with other equally novel ideas. The result is a profusion of apps with more than a smattering of the weird. 
This simple app attempts to repeat the same success as the ‘iFart’, but this time turning your Android into a filled beer mug. It simulates beer on the screen of the phone and sloshes about as the phone is tilted and tipped and froths and foams when the phone is shaken. As the mug is tilted, the level of the beer goes down to simulate it being drunk. There is a burp when ‘the beer’ is finished. It’s frivolous fun, but is neither as charming, nor the humour as long lingering, as the ‘iFart’.
Mosquito killer
More practical, especially as the weather is getting warmer is the app that reputedly turns your phone into a mosquito killer as well as a fly and insect repellent. Mosquito Killer app radiates a high frequency sound from your cell phone to repel insects and, some reports claim, mice as well. The frequency can be adjusted to target the species specifically bugging you. It’s outside the range of human hearing, so you can leave it on all night if you have sufficient battery life. It’s a far more appealing choice than breathing in sprays and chemicals, especially for young children, but has rather mixed reviews on how successful it is. It seems it has a few bugs itself.
This app is unusual, not just because it does not start with the lower case ‘i’, but also because its name apparently translates as ‘Incest Spoiler’. It uses a database on Icelandic genealogy to find out if two people who knock their phones together are related. An ‘incest alert’ is displayed if the two people share a common grandparent. With a population of only 320,000 people, mostly traceable back to the islands 9th century settlers, it is more likely to be a problem in Iceland than expats in China will experience. Nevertheless, it would be an original way to start a conversation if you are ever visiting Iceland, or bump into an Icelandic person at a party.
iFlipFlow Lite
This is another simple idea that takes an old favourite boy’s toy into the 21st Century. Open the app and choose one of the attractive women. Then tilt the phone and like those pens that were popular in the 1970’s, she undresses down to her lingerie. It is apparently all done tastefully, but there is something ironic about having a device that is at the cutting edge of science, packed with technology and massive computing power just to do something so primordial.
With the imminent release of the new Star Trek film, now might be the time to get that Tricorder that you have always wanted. This app is not just a more appealing executive toy than a fantasy beer or undressing model, it also has functions that, while not essential to daily life, at least make a respectable use of the power in the phone. Like it’s Star Trek counterpart, the Tricorder app makes various assessments of your environment; It performs an acoustic analysis of the ambient sounds, measures the strength of the cellular and Wi-Fi signals, locates the closest GPS signal and tells you what satellites are in range, monitors the local gravitational and magnetic fields and it tracks solar flares too. 
Even if the functions are more of interest than of practical use, doing a quick sweep of a client’s reception area’s magnetic field has to be a better way of passing time than pretending to admire the certificates on the walls. The graphics look like something Spock or Scotty would have used to detect traces of Dilithium minerals, or silicon-based life forms. It beeps nicely, too.
It is not just apps that can be a little special; developers are also desperate to create that essential accessory for your mobile device. While this is resulting in some incredible small projectors, printers and docking stations, as well as a whole range of useful covers, there are also those add-ons, which are more far-out than futuristic. And while wearable computers are often talked about as the next hot fashion trend, there are few items of clothing designed for mobile devices that are cool to wear.
The e-holster is a good example of something that looks ridiculous, but if you use a tablet for business it’s possibly a good solution to travelling hands free. It can be worn under a jacket and, as its name suggests, allows the quick draw of the tablet from its protective pocket. It also has a host of other pockets for your phone, passport etc, which certainly look more secure and comfortable than stuffing them into trouser pockets. Of course, you will want to wear a jacket or coat over it unless you are after that cyber geek look, in which case wearing a silver jump suit underneath may be better.
One accessory that might compliment the ‘iFart’ nicely is the ‘iPotty’. This uses the iPad and a lot of bright plastic, to solve the ancient problem of potty training. The potty training seat has a special stand to hold an iPad that the child can use while doing his or her business. It includes a removable touch screen cover to guard against messy accidents and hands. 
The idea is to make the learning process fun, but there is no interaction between the device and the iPad, which could have provided a positive reinforcement of desirable behaviour. The ‘iPotty’ is really just a means of persuading the child to sit on the potty longer by keeping them entertained through watching a video or playing Angry Birds. It’s a substitute for the patience that potty training traditionally requires and perhaps not always possible for modern mums on the go. 
Bathroom Tablet Stand for iPad
Once a child has mastered sitting for hours on the potty, they can graduate to the toilet and take the iPad with them by using a ‘Bathroom Tablet Stand for iPad’. With a chrome finish, it’s more stylish than the primary coloured plastic of the ‘iPotty’, but the principle is the same. The Bathroom Tablet Stand comes with a ‘convenient toilet roll holder’. Presumably this is for those bathrooms that do not already have one, or is in a less ‘convenient place’ such as outside the peripheral vision of iPad user. There are no serious reviews by purchasers of these products that indicate how successful they are in training young boys and girls to do their business. The Bathroom Tablet Stand extends up to 32 inches high, so it would be suitable for all ages even once the complexities of the toilet have been mastered. It is useful if your children do not spend too long in the bathroom already, or if you don’t want to balance the iPad on your lap. 
The number of app users in the US was recently estimated to be 50 million consumers during peak evening periods- a number, which is expected to grow to surpass audiences of popular TV programmes within a few years.  People want almost constant access to communication, information and social networks, wherever they are, whatever they are doing. The variety of accessories and apps needed to make this possible, as well as easier, faster, more integrated with everyday life, manage the data and information generated, while providing more entertainment and fun, will continue to motivate developers to create innovative ideas. Soon we will wonder how we ever lived without such products, but there will always be those that are just weird.

By Robert Watt 
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