apps stories

Though it looks easy on TV, fighting with a broadsword is an activity knights and other medieval types probably practiced a lot. So how do modern knights get some practice in without cutting their hands off? Microsoft Research is tackling this problem with a new game called SwordFight that enables multi-player dueling with smartphones using hardware localization technology.
GPS is a fantastic technology, allowing you to pinpoint your location within a few feet anywhere in the world, except all those places where you can't get a clear view of the sky, like inside buildings. People spend rather a lot of time inside buildings, which is what makes this new geomagnetic location technology (which does work inside) so cool.
Twenty years ago, the video footage of Rodney King's beating at the hands of several LAPD officers brought Los Angeles to the boiling point, but it also harkened the age (and power) of consumer video technology. Two decades later, video tech has become pocket sized, but its potential impact still prevails.
There's a new health app out there that uses photos from your smartphone to track the health of a person's skin — from acne, pore size and tone. The user takes several close up shots of their face and the app then analyzes their skin condition and assigns a score. Over time this allows a user to create a base on which to evaluate their skin health.
NASA has been collecting data about the Earth, the solar system, and beyond for over half a century, but it's not always easy to see how all of this data is making our world a better place on the level of people like you and me. The Space Apps Challenge, sponsored by NASA and Innovation Endeavors (an investment firm headed by Google's Eric Schmidt), asked international teams to submit ideas for apps offering solutions to global problems. There were four types of challenges that teams could work on, including software, open hardware, citizen science, and data visualization. Within these broad categories were specific goals: for example, creating an open-source 3D printing platform that works in space or redesigning the Voyager Golden Record for 2012. Thousands of people and organizations ultimately participated in the challenge (which gave them just one single weekend to come up with a demo or pitch), and the results are in. Before you say "ugh, I don't care about apps," take a look at these short videos highlighting the winners, because we're pretty sure you'll want to care about these.