#3. Apps That Act as Your Therapist
Depression is a massive bastard to diagnose and treat, not to mention actually endure. When your mood is sinking and your thoughts are as black as Norwegian metal, there can be times when nothing seems worth doing anymore. You haven't left the house for days ... and then, out of nowhere, your phone rings and a recorded message tells you to get off your ass and go meet a friend.
"Maybe take a shower, too. Just a suggestion."
It's called Mobilyze, it lives in your phone and it can tell what your mental state is. It watches your whole life: The system gathers data from GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and accelerometers -- all standard fare in most smartphones. Through special algorithms, Mobilyze uses this data to determine if you're showing signs of depression, and reacts accordingly.
So if your phone's GPS says you haven't been leaving the house, or your Wi-Fi displays abnormal activity, Mobilyze will start sending you motivational texts and recorded messages in an attempt to get you to pick yourself up and venture out into the world. If that sounds trite and silly to you, the research says the process actually works. Like a boss.
"You seem stuck in a rut. Have you considered arson?"
Researchers at Northwestern University installed Mobilyze in the phones of several seriously depressed patients. By the time the experiment period was over, each and every participant was showing a much better mood. Alhough we're not sure whether this is because of the messages Mobilyze was sending them or if they just regained their energy by hating that goddamn phone that rings every five minutes.
#2. Phones That Unlock Your Doors (Without Touching Anything)
We've all faced doors the hard way: coffee in one hand, a bag in the other, hot dog wedged in your mouth, desperately fumbling for the key while attempting to keep the scalding-hot liquid from spilling down your pants. But what if the tiny cellphone in your pocket could save you from those nasty espresso burns by unlocking the door for you? And what if it could do so without any commands, by reading tiny vibrations that run through your body?
"Oh God. Science, hurry the hell up."
Through the use of piezoelectric technology, researchers at AT&T have developed a smartphone that tells your door who you are. When you touch the doorknob, the phone sends vibrations -- so subtle that you can't feel them -- through your bones and up into the doorknob, opening the lock. Each phone will have a unique vibration "key" that resonates with the corresponding door.
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"One day, burglars will be able to breach houses with naught but a tuning fork!"
They're still working on the technology, so don't go throwing all your keys into the ditch screaming "FUCK YOU, KEYS, I'VE WAITED FOR THIS ALL MY LIFE!" just yet. However ... if you do have the desire to turn your phone into a door-opening device right the hell now, you can always buy the Lockitron system app for a measly $300. It doesn't quite manage the whole "good vibrations" thing, but nevertheless does a fair job at opening your locks from afar -- much like your car's remote key.
Still, until they work their way through most kinks of the modern, power-draining smartphone, it might be a good idea to think twice before storing the only way to enter your house inside the device with the perpetually dying battery.
#1. Scanners That See Through Solid Objects
X-ray vision features pretty high on everyone's " Superpowers I'd Like to Have" list, although almost entirely for nefarious reasons. In fact, normal human life is only possible because other people can't see through closed doors, file cabinets and our clothing. Until now.
Soon, the entire world will be porn.
We've actually had the technology to see through solid objects for a while now. Electromagnetic waves at the terahertz range are capable of penetrating molecules that optical light can't touch, and with special equipment, this can be used to see through solid objects. That's how those airport security scanners see right through your clothes.
The problem with terahertz imaging devices is that they need tons of energy and complicated lensing to work, making the technology both expensive and unfeasible for pocket-sized portability. That is, until recently. A research team at UT Dallas has found that they can build a much smaller, more effective version of current terahertz devices using little more than a modern computer microchip. And the first place they decided these tiny Superman eyes need to be? Inside your phone.
"With great power comes great responsibility. But sometimes, y'know, fuck it."
They have a ready-to-use technology to see through walls, clothes ... the works. That's like a license to print money -- the first phone to have this feature will outsell literally everything in the history of mankind within days. And human society will collapse within a week or so.
That is, if it wasn't for some moral backbone from the research team. Due to privacy concerns, they have set the limit of see-through visibility to just 4 inches, so unless the person you're trying to sneak a peek at is pressed right against a wall -- or you're really good at making excuses as to why you're running your phone all over their body -- you're probably better off without it.
"You've been contaminated by star radiation! Let me just pull up my Geiger counter app ..."
That doesn't mean the gadget is without useful purpose, though. You'll still be able to peek through your own skin to find any possible tumors, or through your newspaper to see if your ex already left the bar. It also pays to remember that the 4-inch range is due to a decision by the researchers, not an actual technical limitation. There will be nothing stopping competition from removing this limit once the product hits the market. And given the way free commerce works, the "see everyone naked forever" chip should be available to order online roughly 0.02 seconds after this thing hits the stores.
To see just how far we've come, check out The 5 Most Ridiculously Awful Computers Ever Made. Or learn about 7 Ways Your Cellphone Is Screwing With Your Body and Mind.