Thursday, February 27, 2014

How To Change the Game

After reexamining all of the major announcements from Mobile World Conference 2014, it is clear that their were no major game changing innovations that will make immediate impact to the gamer community. As far a home consoles like Microsoft's X-Box, Nintendo's Wii, or Sony's Playstation, their were no new releases, as they usually tend to market their product more near the holiday season. Thus, at MWC, mobile gaming seemed to be the only gamer avenue being explored.

If you look back at my previous blog, I highlighted this area by profiling the MADCATZ CTRLRi and the impact it will have on mobile devices. It'll add authentic gameplay and attract even the most loyal of console gamers to mobile devices. It will also promote action games on the mobile platform. What keeps this from having an immediate major impact though is how a device that is too large for a pocket will work being marketed towards a male demographic. If you just stop with that question, it would appear that this innovation will have a short shelf life. However, this is the beauty of the technology. No one version or first draft of anything is going to be it's last.

So, lets look at the positives of the product and just how it could affect any of it's hand-held competitors. For example, where Nintendo's GameBoy once held a monopoly on the mobile gaming market, the bigger named home gaming console companies like Sony bombarded the market with their PSP device's better graphics, gameplay and computer like features. This high end product, while at first big, got sleeker and more convenient to carry, making it the new top dog, making Nintendo's next generation hand-helds, GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS obsolete. And with the same kind of marketing and improvements to the new console like controllers for smart phones, Will Goodboy of RTE.ie Business Blog says they could do the exact same thing to PSP.

If this does happen, Goodboy says the death of personal gaming could be nigh.
The SAMSUNG S CONSOLE is one of multiple
new console type controllers made for smart phones

Airtag Offers Expedited Food Service Solution to Attendees at MWC

The frustration of waiting in long lines to get lunch or a table at a restaurant could be mitigated by one NFC app introduced at the Mobile World Congress this week.

Visitors at MWC got to trial the app designed by France-based supplier, Airtag, which synced with MWC's existing mobile app to reduce wait times at food venues in Fira de Barcelona and make ordering and picking up food more efficient.

According to NFC World, visitors got to choose the genre of food they wanted, and then selected specific food choices within that through the app. Using PayPal, attendees were able to pay for their food instantly, which decreased the time it took to pick up their food orders. Once their food was ready, the app notified them. When arriving to the food venue, the individual could check in via NFC or QR code and then an employee would give them their order.

This technology will be especially useful in determining wait times at restaurants and will allow people to order and pick up food in less time and without the unnecessary waiting around for your food to be ready.

This expedited food service capability is set to go live at the end of February.

So now we're secure. Oh, really?


Mobile World Congress closed on Thursday the way it began: with talk of identity security filling whatever void was left from the buzz surrounding Google, Samsung and the appearance of Mark Zuckerberg.

SPG Technologies grabbed early headlines as it unveiled its Blackphone, a mobile phone that the company says places user security as a priority. For the price of $629 -- plus shipping. And the phone generated early praise. Cheerleading tweets such as this from Symantec were typical.

Skeptics, though, already are pushing back against what the companies peddled to the public this week. In an interesting piece in Quartz, Leo Mirani cites posts by MattWeinberger in CITEWorld and Sebastian Anthony in ITProPortal that dispel the Blackphone – or really, any mobile phone so far – as being completely secure. Further, Mirani shows a contradiction between statements from Phil Zimmerman, one of Blackphone’s creators, to statements on the website of SPG Technologies, the company that has created the device.

Such quick rebuttals counter the work companies spent this week pushing phones and software that they say will ensure the security of the data in our mobile phones. Mobile phone companies rolled out new products featuring optical, fingerprint or audio security features.

Hong Kong-based FingerQ helped kick off the week by leading a discussion on its use of biometrics technology to ensure phone users’ safe transmission of texts, mobile payments and other activities. Biometrics, simply put, is the practice of studying how we identify others, either through behavior or some tangible piece of evidence, like a fingerprint or eye movement.

These are early days in the identity security business. Phones may never be able to provide absolute security. In the meantime, consumers will have to ask themselves if spending more than $600 is a cost worth paying for a false sense of security.

Selfie app wins "most innovative app"

Oxford named it the word of the year. Beyoncé does them. So does Hillary Clinton. They've been done in the both the most perilous and mundane situations. Yes, we're talking about everyone's favorite, long-armed pastime: the selfie. 2013 was a great year for the narcissistic shots, and judging by the Global Mobile Awards' "most innovative app," we can prepare for a 2014 full of Instagram self-portraits, now made easier.



The Mobile World Congress awarded CamMe, powered by PointGrab, the prestigious award on Tuesday. CamMe uses gesture controls to take pictures from up to 16 feet away, so done are the days of pretend-yawn stretches to send Snap Chats to your friends. Users signal the camera to start a three second delay by raising a hand, still giving you the perfect amount of time to assume prime photo position, with no errant, extended arms in sight. The app also allows for picture stitching and photo borders.

Does this mean that the fine folks at MWC's priorities are really aligned with a largely millennial celebration of the self? I bet not. PointGrab seems to be the idea that piqued the MWC's interest is the gesture-based technology. They explain the app on the awards page:

"CamMe is a gesture based camera app that changes the way people take pictures, allowing you to take pictures from distance without touching the device. Just raise your hand, close it to activate the camera, CamMe will count 3, 2, 1 and you can pose and smile, a great new selfie will be taken. CamMe is powered by PointGrab, a leader in gesture recognition software solutions offering a natural way of interacting with devices. Over 20 million CE devices are already enabled with hand gesture control powered by PointGrab on world’s top brands including Samsung, TCL, Skyworth, Lenovo, Acer, Fujitsu."

PointGrab has also produced gesture-controlled technology in televisions, tablets and computers. The app is currently free across mobile platforms.

People giving CamMe a try:


Samsung Breaks Into Health Care

Within a week, Samsung took not just a dip, but a dive into the healthcare pool.

The South Korean technology powerhouse announced a partnership on Friday with the University of California, San Francisco, to focus preventative health more on digital.

Photo via Flickr/opopododo
"Harnessing new preventative health technologies to help people live healthier lives is the next great opportunity of our generation," said Samsung president and CSO Young Sohn in a Reuters article.

Samsung's Digital Health Innovation Lab, which will be housed on UCSF's campus, aims to ignite and test new ideas, formulas, sensors and other technologies that will take health care into relatively uncharted mobile waters.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Sohn delivered a keynote about Samsung's vision for digital health. For the first time, the event had a lineup of speakers and sessions on Health & Wellness, which was sponsored by ECHAlliance.

"The Mobile Health sector presents a huge opportunity to deliver more efficient care, empower patients, and achieve significant savings in care services and the treatment and management of chronic diseases," said ECHAlliance chair Brian O'Connor in a press release. "Mobile Health applications were used by more than 75 million people in the U.S. in 2013 and the global Mobile Health market is poised to reach $20 billion by 2018. However, it also presents some barriers and challenges that should be tackled by all stakeholders."


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The future of touchscreens

Image from: Mail Online
A breakthrough prototype tablet was displayed at the Fujistu booth at this years Mobile World Congress that redefines the touch screen. The new technology allows users to "feel" what they are touching on the screen. The prototype allows users to stroke an alligator and feel its skin or pluck the strings of a harp.

"It's one of those things that has to be touched to be believed," according to a reporter from a video posted by BBC News on Monday about the tablet.

The tablet uses ultrasonic vibrations to, in essence, trick the user into thinking they are feeling what is on the screen. Although other technology has attempted to recreate this concept, Fujistu says that this is the first ultrasound technology in the world to run on a smaller device like a tablet.

According to Hexus, the technology works like this: Ultrasonic vibrations create a high-pressure layer of air between the screen and your fingertip, which helps reduce the friction and creates what they call a floating effect. High and low friction are then combined and organized to create different sensations for different images.

Image from: Hexus
The predecessor to this technology, haptic tech, was released in 2012 and according to Engadget it never really caught on. But, so far Fujistu's tablet seems to be getting a lot of attention and generating plenty of interest because right now, it is unlike anything else on the market.

So, what exactly does this type of technology mean for the future of tablets? Well, Fujistu hopes to release the product commercially in 2015 according to Mail Online. Which, could up the ante for other companies in the tablet industry.
Image from: Re/code

This type of technology has the capability to change the way people interact with media not only while playing games, but while giving presentations and selling products as well. It seems to be that in the very near future not only will consumers be able to see their media in crystal clear HD, they will also be able to virtually touch it too.

Battle against Identity Thief a mobile priority


Call it the Edward Snowden Effect – the fear of big government. Perhaps it’s the frequent news reports of retail business’s consumer data falling victim to hackers. Or maybe it’s the now-common media reports of public disgust with Facebook for changing its privacy settings by stealth.
 
Whatever the reason, the public is wrestling with how to preserve privacy and securely store data in a digital age. A survey by the Pew Research Center’sInternet Project shows how conflicted we are. Roughly 86 percent of respondents said they have taken steps to minimize their presence on the Internet and 55 percent have taken steps to avoid being seen by specific people, organizations or government. And yet, 59 percent said they believe it is not possible to remain completely anonymous online.

Business is sure to take notice of such survey results. It’s no accident, then, that identity and security are one of the highlighted topics at this week’s Mobile WorldCongress in Barcelona, Spain, the annual gathering that is part consumer expo and part thought-leader conference that draws tens of thousands. A forum on security helped kick off the week, and security has remained a topic generating interest all week.

MWC has events planned daily that tie into the conference's theme, mobile identity.

Various products are being unveiled that dovetail into the identity security theme. This week, Samsung followed up last year’s unveiling  of the Knox security solution for its mobile phone Galaxy S5 with Knox 2.0.  Tech website ZDNET reports that new features include both password and fingerprint verification to unlock the phone.

Not just phone sellers are in the mobile identity security game. Biometrics is an emerging area for digital privacy and online security company AVG, which produces virus and malware protection products, led a discussion on Monday on security issues tied to the digital space we live in.

Software also is a focus of new products to enhance security. As MWC began, Verizon and McAfee announced an agreement that would supply software to an expanded group of mobile devices, ZDNET reported. 

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) is designed to showcase what will be the big products and trends in mobile technology for the coming year. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 70,000 visitors to Barcelona, according to the Catalan NewsService. With music and cocktail parties laced around the events, CNET’s KentGerman simply calls MWC “the world’s largest wireless party.”

"We Want to Be Human"

BARCELONA--You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone at this year's--or any year's, really--Mobile World Congress that isn't wowed or impressed at the newest phone, latest app, or coolest gadget. Science fiction is jumping from fiction novels and movie reels directly into our lives. Those that have been successful in the tech world have tapped into one of our most basic needs: connection. And no, not an Internet connection (though the Millennial generation might say otherwise). Humans, as any scientist can tell you, are social creatures; we are biologically programmed to be with others. And yet, according to Intel's in-house anthropologist Genevieve Bell, some businesses have been riding on the coattails of technological advancement and have yet to tap into what we really want: "We want to be human, not digital."


Credit: Stephen Shankland, CNET
Human constants, such as our need for connection, are the real roots of technology. In this way we have molded technology to fit our needs, from telegraphs and stereoscopes to cell phones and Skype. This is the key to great technology: "If you can tap into [connecting to people]," said Bell, "you can always succeed."


While we have done a great job at making technology adapt to our needs, Bell also notes that technology has also shaped us. Yes, we all want to hop on Facebook to talk to and share with our friends, but where's the app that's made to surprise us? That manages our reputation? That lets us forget about our troubles? These are the areas that are "ripe for innovation," Bell said. 


Boring works (Singapore)
WARNING: BOREDOM AHEAD
Courtesy of Slawek Kozdras, Flickr
If you think about it for a minute, you'll start to understand. Companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Pandora are practically founded on crunching the data on our behavior, our likes, and our previous purchases and suggesting other things we might like, listen to, or buy. We like these companies and their apps because "we really like the familiar." But after 28 seasons of Survivor (and counting), four Law & Order spin-offs, and 13 number one singles from Rihanna...what comes next?


"We don't have a lot of algorithms that work out how people are about to become bored and how to deliver something surprising to them that won't freak them out," Bell said. "The first person who gets there wins."


In addition, Bell wisely points out that technology typically works best when it's connected to other technology, but humans work best when we're unplugged, or "disconnected," as she put it. And yet there is still the element of human connection that we desperately need and cling to.


The effects of technology on our behavior are still being discovered. Right now, an app to help us "be bored" would be a welcome sight, but may be old hat in the near future. That's technology to gamble on. But the common thread throughout our lives, and indeed throughout history, is connection and communication. Technology that invests on keeping humans connected will always be money well spent.

New Headphones Not Worth the Price

As technology becomes more and more advanced as the years progress, so do the little accessories that we use to enhance our experience. This definitely holds true when it comes to headphones and their advancement within the world. We all have seen apple's advancement with each headphone as the iPhone and iPad have progressed over the years, but also with the Dr. Dre beats headphones shrinking from being giant circular headphones to ones that are a little more manageable to transport around.

Well, Samsung came up with a new type of headphone the Sound OG 900 which is to believed to be thought of by pebbles nonetheless. While the headphones are smaller in size than some headphones making it easy to carry around, CNET has come out and said that the price of these may not be worth the buck. The headphones will cost around $275 but CNET says that early tests of these headphones produce quality that isn't associated with the high price headphones. Finally, CNET explains that this headphone's volume keys are low on the cable which make it tough to know what a person is actually touching when trying to change the volume.

Tech War: BLE vs NFC

Coupons--not just for trash anymore!
Courtesy of djhsilver, Flickr
BARCELONA--At this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC), Wirecard is ready to rake in the dough by offering coupons and loyalty programs with its wireless payment services using Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology, as posted earlier in Mobile at Mizzou. While BLE, which uses beacons to wirelessly transmit messages to your mobile phone if detected within a certain distance, is the hip new thing for business-by-mobile, it faces not only some harsh criticism but also competition from already-established near field communication (NFC) technology.


While BLE sounds like the answer to any advertiser's prayers, others have raised concerns bout security, privacy, and general annoyance. Many have voiced concerns about spamming as they might peruse stores or large venues like shopping malls. How often would a consumer be receiving these ads if he/she was to walk around a mall? Would he/she receive more than one ad from the same store if they pass it a few times? Should those visiting the Mall of America be prepared for "never-ending vibrating pants syndrome" as their phone alerts them to all those ads and coupons? If this looks like the future of BLE, consumers will view beacon technology as annoying and bothersome rather than attractive.

Easy enough for Barbie to hack?
Courtesy of Nicole Hennig, Flickr
If sheer annoyance is enough to shut BLE down, what about privacy and security? Marketers will hurry to rake in as much information about individual customers as they can, but consumers may not be aware of how much data is being used or how it is being used. In addition, BLE might offer a new gateway for hackers to intercept data or track customers, as seemingly anyone with a mobile phone can be connected to a public beacon.

Furthermore, Retail Info Systems News outlines three other concerns:
  • Beacons are easy to clone. Copying a beacon's unique identifier can easily be accomplished and placed onto new equipment. Unprotected systems can fall victim to crowd steering and other spoofing attacks.
  • Distance is difficult to determine. Beacons are inaccurate at close distances. When put closer than 12 feet together--a real possibility in a retail setting--they interfered with each other.
  • Technology is ahead of services needed to manage it. Very few managed service providers are offering services to set up beacons, resulting in a lack of consistent monitoring, measurement and management.

Last but not least, there are currently no ways to monitor beacons, either for their true marketing effectiveness or for security purposes.


BLE to be crushed by NFC?
Courtesy of Med PhotoBlog, Flickr
Okay, so, we can admit that BLE has some room for improvement. But there is another force at work against beacon technology. The idea of wireless communication is nothing new to retail; companies have already invested heavily in near field communication (NFC), which offers low speed connection with Bluetooth, WiFi, or chips/tags. Gigaom's Colin Gibbs logically presumes that: 
...retailers are highly unlikely to embrace a new technology until they see BLE--or some other offering--gain traction. Meanwhile, mobile payment providers like ISIS and Google Wallet continue to push their NFC-based offerings.

A pro for NFC can be a con for BLE. While BLE consumers can be passive, NFC technology is passive, meaning users must tap, move, or otherwise find information, hopefully because they want it. NFC is therefore less invasive, as it won't spam users by automatically sending them messages. Advertisers and marketers can rest assured that the reach they get is from consumers that are actually interested in their product. Additionally, NFC assumes everyone has "opted out" of its technology; therefore, those that interact via NFC are aware that their personal information is being used.


Courtesy of pitto94, Flickr

So what's the takeaway here? While NFC currently reigns as the wireless communication tool among retailers, BLE is a noteworthy competitor that has the potential to take the marketing world by force. Like any new technology today, advertisers and marketers must make sure that beacon technology is appropriate for their brand and that their message content is valuable to consumers; otherwise, there's a possibility that BLE will be seen as nothing more than a spammer. But note the word "possibility"--per Peter Parker's wise Uncle Ben, "with great power comes great responsibility." If the marketing and advertising worlds are to adopt BLE, it is up to them to ensure that it is a safe, consumer-friendly, strategic messaging technology that is used to empower, not to exploit, the consumer.

Shazam Tunes up its Features


Shazam, a music recognition app service that recently partnered with Warner Music Group, revealed a total redesign at the Mobile World Congress 2014. Phil Tottman said the redesigned app will make it the go to platform for TV shows and brands as well as music.

Tottman also said some of the additions include access to information about shows broadcast on more than 160 TV channels in the US including music from the show, cast and crew, plus Shazam will now deliver more engaging biographies and discographies, making it easier to learn about a new artist.
In a GagetGuy blog the Shazam CEO Rich Riley said, “The redesign we’re unveiling today is part of a fundamental evolution in our consumer experience. With these changes, Shazam is evolving to become a destination experience and content platform for artists, shows and brands.”
Daniel Danker, the chief product officer at Shazam, said the new app design is really good at showing you video, recommendations and lyrics.
"The secret behind all this is that it becomes a platform to bring more content from artists to fans and that artists are going to start participating in this experience."
In a USA Today article Mike Snider said one of the goals is to put an emphasis on artist engagement. Shazam plans to continue its increased involvement in TV programs.
Danker said Shazam already has more than 420 million users and it generates about 7 percent of all digital music sales in the world, but the redesign should make it easier for both artists and users. For users there will be easier access to previewing, buying and sharing music. For artists the new additions should help make it easier to enhance a stronger presence on Shazam.
GagetGuy says the latest version of the app will be rolled out to both of the major mobile operating systems, with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Shazam will be making its way to iOS first in the free and paid versions of the application, and Android will be updated in the next few weeks.




Data on Lockdown: Introducing the Blackphone

There are no clever misspellings or numbers in it's name- you won't see any plays on edgy words like "experience", "razor" or "infinity". If you didn't notice the three extra buttons at the bottom, you might mistake this phone for an ordinary iPhone. The Blackphone is simple, unassuming, low-key. On purpose.

With mobile hackers becoming more prevalent in recent years and the NSA making headlines, you might wonder who exactly has access to your data? After all, all your bank numbers, contacts and your schedule are located in the same device. You don't have to be a secret agent to want a high-tech phone that doesn't track you and allows you privacy when you're calling and texting your friends.

The Blackphone by SGP Technologies is a response to this need for mobile security. For $629, you can rest easy knowing that you've your data on lockdown for the most part. Although it isn't NSA-proof, it has its own operating system called PrivateOS, which is still part of the Android family. In addition, there's the Security Center feature, which allows you to micromanage your app permissions. The website claims that it disables all but your trusted Wi-Fi hotspots, so there's no user tracking.

The Blackphone may look demure, but it has quite a long memory- it has a 4.7 inch screen, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory and an 8 megapixel camera. The real reason for the high cost is the software, though. The $629 price tag includes 2 years of SpiderOak and Disconnect, third-party security apps that add even more protection to your data, but that's another $240 when your subscriptions expire. It also includes 3 subscriptions for a year for 'Friends and Family' Silent Circle, which allows you to pick three people to talk to securely, but you'll end up paying $360 the next year when you renew. And there's no way to completely secure your email.

 Unfortunately, the Blackphone will only be available in three countries when its launched in June: Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have all agreed to try it out.

So is it worth it? For some, paying top dollar for ultra-high mobile privacy might not be worth it, but those wanting to lay low on the grid may find it worth the extra expense. After all, you can't put a price on security.

BLE for More Than Just IOU

Courtesy of eric chan, Flickr
BARCELONA--The newest plaything coming out of the 2014 Mobile World Congress for wireless payment providers like Wirecard is Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology. Users can pay without cash or credit card simply by swiping their phones at a scanner, which detects each user's individual account and automatically accesses their credit card information. BLE uses beacons to scan or transmit to your mobile phone once you are within a close enough range.

While BLE will likely prove useful for payment and banking services, advertisers and marketers are also taking note. BLE provides retailers with an opportunity to scan shoppers' phones, identify personal information such as payment history, and then send highly targeted ads, coupons, or announcements to those shoppers--all in real time. 





Minority Report (2002), Twentieth Century Fox
Sound like something out of a movie? Well, it is, kinda. Comparisons to the film Minority Report abound--a store might well recognize you as soon as you walk through the doors. American Eagle as well as other retailers are already using BLE and beacon technology like Apple's iBeacon to draw customers into their stores and get them to browse by offering coupons or discounts. Even MetLife Stadium used beacon technology during this year's Superbowl:
Fans walking down Broadway received messages such as -- "Get your picture taken with the Lombardi Trophy, located between 43rd and 44th streets on Broadway". Other messages alerted users to merchandise at nearby kiosks as they walked through MetLife.
MLB will be implementing iBeacons in at least 20 stadiums by March, so be on the lookout for a coupon to get your peanuts and Cracker Jack.

In addition, iBeacon and other beacon technologies can be used for other proximity marketing such as hands-free check-ins and in-store mapping and navigation.


No battery sucking, no hokey-pokeying.
Courtesy of Aquila, Flickr
One great aspect of BLE technology is that it links devices "in a way that doesn't drain your battery-life like an unstoppable vampiric force." This makes BLE technology easy to swallow for consumers. Additionally, beacon technologies require little effort on the part of the consumer as they don't have to "scan, tap, bump, or do the hokey pokey in order to engage with a Bluetooth beacon."

BLE also trumps GPS technology as it offers more accuracy inside buildings, especially in regard to individual people. BLE is also relatively cheap, as it will cost large retailers only a couple thousand dollars to outfit its space with enough beacons to keep track of its customers.


Just a thousand or two smackeroos and stores will be able to read your phone like a book...or will they?

According to Opera, Waiting for that video to load is a problem EVERYWHERE

We've already seen a variety of tablets with wider screens and better camera, phones with better service and battery life, and watches with cameras and calling abilities at the Mobile World Conference. One thing all the companies announcing a new phone or tablet made sure to make mention of the great quality and processor that would enhance the buyer's mobile video viewing experience.
In fact, I know most of what's been introduced and announced through a live stream video I watched on my mobile phone.
At the conference, mobile video and it's future was discussed. According to a tweet from Oglivy PR, the conference discussed mobile video usage will take up almost half of media data with a 66 percent increase.
So what's the problem?
According to a study by Opera, video stalling is still a problem..everywhere.
The study shows 40 to 70 percent of videos played in countries like Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, India, and the US experienced problems.
The study said the worst was in India with 70 percent of videos stalling. The US had 20 percent of videos stalling.
The problem was less prominent with videos being played on LTE and 3G networks with 18 percent in the US.
The study gathered the information with customer surveys in the 5 countries along with their data on mobile video networks and past bandwidth tests.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

App for the Blind Wins Best Mobile Health Product

Apps undoubtedly can make our lives easier. In an effort to make navigation easier for the blind community, Finnish developer MIPSoft created BlindSquare.

Blindsquare uses Foursquare to navigate users to
popular places in their area.
Photo via Flickr/teamstickergiant
The app combines the location-based data from Foursquare and Open Street Map with voice technology to create an auditory map. This tool for the blind or visually impaired came out on top of the “Best Mobile Health Product or Service” category at the Global Mobile Awards at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Judges’ comments noted the app as “an assistive technology that combines consumer mobile technologies to address a societal problem,” according to the Global Mobile Awards website.

Although BlindSquare is a hybrid of various services, its functionality is remarkably simple.

First, you shake your device. 

Your location is read to you, followed by nearby intersections and points of interest.

This is where Foursquare’s over 45 million users come in handy. Based on the individual's presets, the app can recommend nearby places for the user to visit. 

Looking to grab a cup of coffee? It can tell you where to get the best cup of joe nearby and how to get there. 

The app not only can be used as a navigation tool, but also for fun. With another shake, users can check-in at their location and share it on their Facebook or Twitter feed.

"Blind people love Foursquare, too," said BlindSquare developer Ilkka Pirttimaa in a Mashable article. "It's simple. Just shake the device and you hear where you are [at] an address, or nearest crossing. If you are at some Foursquare place, you can re-shake to check in."

But if you just want to head back to where you started and avoid the recommendations,  filters can be used to keep the information as basic as possible. 

“BlindSquare possesses filters you can set, so you only hear the information you currently need,” as explained on the app’s website.

Riding the bus, walking to lunch, or taking a stroll in the park now can be a little simpler for the tech-savvy user.


The app is compatible with the iPad and iPhone and is available for $23.99 in the iTunes App Store.