We have a ridiculous selection of apps these days, but rather than only churning out time-wasting minigames and apps for simple tasks, some people have seen the possibilities a world full of personal minicomputers offers, choosing instead to develop potentially world-altering software. Here are five apps that signal novel and significant advances in how we think about apps.
1. Wrist Repair
Wrist repair is a patient education app that details a ORIF (Open Reduction and Internal Fixation) procedure, an operation to fix a distal radius fracture. In simpler terms, Wrist Repair app offers a 3D explanation of this common form of wrist surgery, allowing the patient to view the process in x-ray, skeletal, and full 3D reconstruction modes. A simple idea, yet extremely valuable to patients.
SpillMap uses the common smartphone techs of GPS and internet connection to create an updateable and interactive map where users upload environmental spill information. Designed to track the recent Gulf oil spill, this app allows people to pin pictures, video, and audio to specific GPS and map locations, with this information available to all users. This kind of software, compatible with Bell mobile plans and others, takes the responsibility away from one localized organization and instead gives it to individuals, a novel and perhaps revolutionary approach.
Lapka combines an external accessory with the various technologies already available on the iPhone to create a personal environment monitor. The devices detect nitrate levels to determine whether or not food is organic, as well as reads local levels of humidity, low and high electromagnetic fields, and radiation. The accessory runs between $80-$250, and the corresponding app is free.
vCath is an app that teaches neuroscience students step-by-step how to catheter the ventricular system of the brain using three-dimensional models. Beyond images, the app introduces the user to the specific physical movements and orientations of the procedure, as well as allows the student to practice the steps in this 3D environment. Such an innovative type of teaching tool could be adapted to encompass an unlimited number of medical procedures.
5. Skeptical Science
The Skeptical Science app is an informational program that addresses the common reasons some people don’t believe in global warming. Available for Android phones, the app leads you through various arguments used by skeptics and offers the scientific information that dispels those notions or shows their context within the wider framework of scientific research. The app also updates regularly, highlighting any new doubts or concerns raised by those who believe differently.
With the rise of smartphones, the proliferation of computers continues. So far, we have mostly used our minicomputers to solve simple issues or play games, but with brave thinking we may soon have access to levels of sophisticated programming that will change our world.