There’s an App for That (Part of Your Soul)

In the past ten years, technology has found its wheelhouse: connecting us socially. A perfect storm materialized: the Internet, mobile devices and our overwhelming desire to connect with one another converged to create apps and experiences that connect us with one another. From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram, we do things online mainly for the purpose of sharing them with others.

In the midst of all the social app hubbub, we haven’t bothered to consider the potential for technology to serve the other needs of the human condition. Yes, we are social animals and the motivator to connect, share, validate and be validated is incredibly strong, but we’ve got other needs as well. It’s high time we aim the mighty tech cannon at the other emotional and psychological needs that make us tick.

So without further ado, we bring you three brand new royalty-free application ideas that speak to the rest of the human condition. These prototypes are the product of a collaboration with the Arc90 Lab, beer and waking up at 3am with a killer idea that isn’t so killer the following morning.

We hope they’ll cast a new light on what technology can do to make us happier.

Vincetagram

The immensely popular photo-sharing app Instagram does an admirable job of making it easy to share photographs on your mobile phone.

It’s worth asking why Instagram is such a breakout success? It’s by no means the first photo sharing app. It’s popularity is partly due to the vintage feel it applies to photos. The edges are frayed and the colors are saturated in that old-style Polaroid sort of way. It brings the charm of analog to an overly digitized world. Most importantly, a photo taken just minutes ago is instantly imbued with a sense of history and nostalgia. It’s as if you stumbled on it in an old shoe box.

If Instagram can create the illusion of history and nostalgia with photos, why not take it a step further. Why not bring along a friend that you’ve known since junior high school from 20 years ago? Introducing Vincetagram:

Vincetagram takes simulated nostalgia to a whole new level. Not only will your pictures be enhanced with an impromptu visit from your old (albeit imaginary) friend, but your entire online life can be enriched. Vincetagram Free users get a new friend and follower on Twitter and Facebook as well as the occasional “Hey buddy!” SMS. Vincetagram Premium users receive weekly emails from Vince with a heartwarming “just wanted to see how you were doing…”


Appathy

All day every day, we get positive pings. Jim “friended” you. Suzzy “favorited” your tweet. Reggie “followed” you. We’re awash in positive reinforcement. The result is a constantly diminishing ability to appreciate good news. What if there was a tool that pings you when your online activity conjures up little more than indifference and apathy from others? Wouldn’t the occasional “friending” mean so much more? That tool is Appathy.

The goal of Appathy is straightforward: rekindle our appreciation of all those positive pings by surrounding them with the inanity of life’s typical interactions. With its groundbreaking ClearDisinterest(tm) technology, Appathy senses and captures the seemingly un-capturable: the unimpressed gaze, the rolled eyes, the brief moment of disdain. Your Humdrum Dashboard provides a birds-eye view of all those passed-over opportunities for connection and social interaction. It’ll even visualize your friends’ “dead zones”: the hours in the day when they’re most likely to ignore you.

The result is subtle but striking: the winks and pats on the back are far fewer and far between. When you do get that “follow” or “friend” request, it will mean so much more.

GetaGrip

While technology promised us convenience and productivity, its relentless advance seems to only put us further under water. From your never-ending email inbox to the unread count in your feed reader, the march of tech is always one step ahead of you. What we need is an app that pauses the insanity and reminds you of what’s really important: your mortality.

GetaGrip senses when you’re drowning in information overload and pauses everything. That endless stream of tweets, feeds and messages fades away. In its place GetaGrip reveals a jarring dose of reality. How long before others are noticing your protruding gut or receding hairline? How many retirement homes and funeral parlors are within a five mile radius of you? In a brief moment, your entire life (online and off) is snapped back into perspective.

The app also includes a database of over 3,000 disasters from history. Each day you’ll be notified with a reminder that no matter how shitty your day is going, history reveals that someone had a far shittier day than you.

Stepping Back

These prototypes may appear unconventional at first glance but the needs they address are anything but. Hopefully the technology innovators among us will view this article as a lens towards the future. The app store category list of tomorrow shouldn’t just be about games and productivity tools. We need to think more broadly about how $.99 apps can help boost our confidence or help us get over a bad breakup.

We have the technology. We can rebuild us.

Thanks to Emo Joe for the beautiful soul-satisfying interface design work for this post.