It seems like smartphones are used for everything these days. We live in a “there’s an app for that” world, with smartphones becoming the central hub for multiple activities. As versatile as these technological marvels are, many people still only use them for the most basic of tasks like texting, email, social media, and event planning. But smartphones can be used for so much more than that. Some of the most innovative minds in the world aren’t just looking at a smartphone as a convenient way to communicate with friends; they see it as a problem solving tool, one with near infinite possibilities.
1. Solving a Rubik’s Cube
Most humans have a tough time solving a Rubik’s Cube, but leave it to a smartphone to make it seem easy. The CUBESTORMER 3 is a robot powered by a specially designed Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. Here’s how it works. The smartphone uses a special processor to look at the cube and communicate with four robotic arms to get the cube colors in all the right places. Using a custom app and the phone’s camera, the CUBESTORMER 3 can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 3.253 seconds — a Guinness World Record.
2. Translating Text with a Camera
How about an app that can translate text using only the camera found on a smartphone? That’s the innovation behind the Word Lens app. Quest Visual, the company that makes the app, has developed technology that detects text seen through the camera lens. The words it detects can then be translated into a variety of languages, making the app an indispensable tool when you travel abroad. The company was recently bought by Google, so it’s likely we’ll see this become a feature in all Android devices in the future.
3. Checking Around Corners
You never know what could be lurking around the corner. Smartphones could come in handy for checking those blind spots if you’re too afraid to stick your head around there. Just take your phone, place it on a selfie stick, use Facetime, and watch what your smartphone sees from a tablet or laptop. Voila! You can now get unique views, such as looking up in an attic to find trapped birds or other creatures which shouldn’t be there.
4. Smartphone + Coffee Mug = Improved Sound
Lots of people use their smartphones to play music, but when not using headphones, they usually have to plug the device into a speaker attachment. There may be another, much cheaper way to get better sound. Just put your smartphone in a coffee mug. The mug amplifies the sound, turning it into a fully serviceable speaker. It works well for conversations on speaker phone as well. Just remember: pour out the coffee first.
5. Helping the Blind
Blind people are capable of doing it a lot, but every so often, they still need help. An app called Be My Eyes has them in mind. Whenever a blind person needs assistance, he or she uses the app to take video of what they need help with. One example is trying to figure out if milk has expired. The app puts them in live contact with a volunteer, who can then give added instructions and help.
6. Monitoring Your Heart Rate
Smartphones are increasingly being used for health reasons. One of the most prominent ways is to monitor heart rate. There are plenty of apps available with this goal in mind. One of the most popular is Instant Heart Rate, which uses your camera’s flash to measure your pulse. All you have to do is place your index finger on the camera for a few seconds.
7. Tuning Pianos
Tuning a piano can be a tricky and time consuming task. The frame bends slightly when you tune, so if you tune each string in order, the first strings will be out of tune by the time you reach the end. This app tells you what tension the first strings should be tuned to at the start so when the frame bends it pulls all the strings into the right tune by the end. The app is a bit pricey ($400), but we can at least admire the technology available from the sidelines.
These examples show just how versatile smartphones can be. A wide variety of tricks, tools, and activities are at your fingertips thanks to the technology and apps now in the market. So the next time you think of your smartphone as only a texting device, just remember it can do so much more, with new ideas becoming a reality on a consistent basis.
What is the most interesting thing you have ever seen a smartphone used for?