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Droid Projects - Transience Divine
November 11th, 2009
05:30 pm

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Droid Projects
"I am Ready & Willing to offer my Services to any Nation or People under heave who are Desirous of Liberty & Equality"

I now have a Droid, Google/Motorola/Verizon's new PDA. First, it's an excellent device-- powerful and slick, lots of space, 5 MP camera, a touch-screen and a slide-out keyboard. To me though, it's all pretty pointless. I don't need it to organize any aspect of my life, I don't want any more pervasive connectivity a cell and a laptop give me, and I don't like playing with computers. I wouldn't have gotten it if I hadn't needed it for this project.

I have 11 more days during which I can return it. But it is sweet-edge technology, and now I have all this knowledge of how to code the thing-- why not use it?

But I need your help! I'm looking for fun projects that can either (1) recoup some of this $70 a month I'm spending, or (2) help PDAers live greener. To that end, I have some ideas:

Greener, Every Day Calendar

This would be a free "page-a-day" style calendar, juxtaposing pretty pictures (e.g. of climate change) with steps you can take to lessen/extend your impact. I hope to have connections to tons of non-profits soon through Democracy In Action, and they might have a lot to contribute.

It will be both personalized and built on community-contributions. Anyone will be able to submit additional day-pages on the website, and at the bottom of each day will be rating buttons ("up-thumb" and "down-thumb"), which both inform your preferences and affect the likelihood of those pages for other people. Also, there will be a "I'm doing it!" button next to the thumb buttons, which both lets users see their strength in numbers, and allows some pages to be "follow-ups" on other pages (e.g., one page might suggest "Move to Washington, DC", and if you do it, then you'll get another one that says "Work for Democracy In Action").

Open Artificial Intelligence

You can get a little chat A.I. that you can interact with, and teach, and watch it learn, and grow, and interact with your phone. I helped build a huge text-based A.I. for Virsona, and now I'm working on open-sourcing pieces of it. It can get responses from a dozen sources and learn in multiple ways, it understands grammar, emotion, the relationships between words, implied concepts and conversation trends. And now it's built on a plugin design, where anyone can add new intelligence, new knowledge, and new ways of interacting. There would be free and paid-for versions of this.

Virtual Painter

Turn your PDA into a virtual paint-brush, and view your pieces of art through its lens. You can paint anything-- a wall, a piece of furniture, a tree-- by selecting a color and sweeping the PDA like a brush. Any time you look through the PDA's camera, you can see your work of art. I might even make the paintings shareable, so that anyone who passes by the bus-stop that you graffitied can see it. A demo would be available for free, with a limited amount of paint.


I'm pretty excited about working on any of these, but I'm open to anything you've always wanted on your phone.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:quality617
Date:November 12th, 2009 04:09 am (UTC)
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Come up with an app that will get me laid.

Bonus points if you can reduce my carbon footprint in the process. :)
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From:jrising
Date:November 12th, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
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Mmm, maybe like a virus that spreads itself to other people's devices, takes secret pictures of them, and then the next time they ask for driving directions, it directs them to your house:

Turn left onto Anyhow Lane - .2 mi
Stop at 123 Anyhow Lane and enter house. - 25 ft
Turn right at second door, lay on bed - 12 ft
Have sex with quality617 - 30 seconds
Leave money on bedside table, and exit house - 12 ft
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From:redcat9
Date:November 12th, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC)
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I've talked about doing an iPhone app that would crowd-source gathering prices of goods at supermarkets and then build a cost-efficient shopping list based on that data.

I've noticed that the yogurt I buy varies from $3.99 at Market Basket to $5.39 at Star, and since I eat 2-3 containers a week, the price difference over a year is significant. I'm sure there are a lot of other products with similar differences , but I can't keep them all in my head and thus I just use a greedy algorithm based on the prices I know to decide where to shop.
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From:jrising
Date:November 13th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
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I've been wanting to do something similar, where the optimization is on fewer unintended global consequence dollars. The problem I have is that I don't think that people will type in their grocery list beforehand, or scan barcodes at the store (there's an app called ShopSavvy that does this and compares to prices online), or really want to do much work at all to get the benefits.

The best solution I've thought of is an app that scans receipts, and then gives you a succinct report of what you can do better next time.
From:cokebottletuque
Date:November 13th, 2009 06:36 am (UTC)
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Well, it has a car mode right? use the accelerometer/gps to drive a greener driving habits trainer, I'd use it when I get one. Is the keyboard as bad as the reviews claim it is? hows the LED flash? hows app writing? and it has a digital compass right?
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From:jrising
Date:November 13th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
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Not a bad idea, but wouldn't it mostly beep you (or whatever) on things you can't do anything about (say, stop-and-go traffic, or driving below your engine's optimum)? Or are green driving habits something else?

I think the keyboard is fine. When I just have something short to type, I usually use the iPhone-style virtual keyboard, but when I have something longer, the slide keyboard is faster. I haven't tried to use the camera in real low-light conditions-- the LED flash is definitely less powerful than a normal camera-- but in lowish light, it's a huge help. App writing is fine; there are some annoying holes in the documentation, but the framework is solid. And the digital compass is definitely sweet. One of the apps I download is Google Sky Map, and it really feels like you can look straight through the screen to the night sky.
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From:jrising
Date:November 13th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
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Actually, I want to say that I'm pretty impressed with the app writing framework. I haven't developed for iPhone, but things have gone very smoothly on Android. I was working for the first week on their emulator, and there wasn't even a hiccup when I swapped to the real thing. And it's all in Java with some xml files for conveniences, so how everything works is very straight-forward.
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