Category: Apps

App ideas

Micro movement sensing

Use the orientation sensor in a cell phone to monitor small regular movements. For example, the movement due to the heart beat. It might be possible to measure breathing movement. It may also be possible to measure anomalous movements–tremors, the sway due to microadjustments involved in standing.

Also, if the heartbeat moves a phone to a noticeable degree, does this make cell phone photos blurrier? If so, add heartbeat detection to the camera app–have pictures be snapped between heartbeats.

Basically, orientation data would be collected, and a frequency analysis done to detect the freq and amplitude of the movements. I don’t know how fast the orientation can be polled. If it is too slow, it may be possible to use intermittent polling at precise times to identify the frequency of movements.

Shadow boxing

A related use would be as a shadow boxing app. This would clearly be better as a wrist strap standalone device, but might work as an app. Hold the phone in a hand (or strap it firmly to the wrist), and follow the movements of the hand/arm, recording punches and the speed of them. The user would indicate the hand being scored in setup, and then as hands are switched, the punching of the two could be compared. Groups of friends could play together to see who can punch the fastest or do the most punches in 30s.


This app would run simultaneously on two phones. One phone would display bands of pure red, blue, and green. A sample would be placed across one half of the bands. The second phone would take a picture of the first phone. Image analysis would compare the brightness of the control and sample covered regions and calculate absorbance in the three channels. Cell phone displays are either OLED or IMOD. There are a range of displays used in phones, so this would never be super accurate without calibration. The OLED displays seem to have fairly narrow spectrum pure colors while the iphones have broader colors.

This could be used either as an exploration tool–test substances and record spectra, or reference data could be used to make guesses at substances.

Or you could use a diffraction gratings and make a real spec.

App ideas

1) Calculate object heights using the orientation sensor. Walk off (or use Google maps, or GPS) the distance to an object, then use the angle of base to top and trig to determine height.

–I checked The Play Store, and there are 2-4 apps that already do this.

2) Cute baby / ugly baby. Have people submit pics of babies, other users score them. A lowbrow app. Mostly used by friends or random passersby taking pictures of babies and submitting them. The app could also show the cutest / ugliest babies locally, by state, by country. Easy to implement. Definitely should be a pay app.

Another App Idea

Have a game of electronic (or just electric) circuits. Give the player a few parts, as many wires as needed, and a goal. The player attaches the parts until the goal is achieved. The simplest case would be a battery and a light bulb, with the goal being to light the bulb.

Other basic components can be added, resistors, caps, diodes, LEDs, etc. The game would involve only simple circuits, to make it easier and to make modeling the results from the circuits the users make easier.


Squish is a game where tiles are moved on a game board. The starting board has the tiles out of place. The player needs to move the tiles to match the goal arrangement.

Tiles travel in a circuit when a move is made. The player click on a tile to squish it out of place. The tile displaces an adjacent tile, and this follows along a loop until a tile moves to take the place of the original tile. If many circuits are possible starting from an original tile, the choices are displayed and the player picks the move.

To complicate the game, there is a hierarchy of tiles. Darker tiles can displace lighter ones, but lighter tiles can not move darker tiles. This limits the possible moves.

Squish logo

Squish mainSquish help