I have an embarrassing confession to make everyone; I’m a member of a rather exclusive yet rapidly declining group of people, better known as the few people left on earth not in possession of a smartphone. While I realise that this admission makes me something of an alien in our increasingly gadget dependent society, I am somewhat famed for this fact within my immediate social circle. However, there is method in my madness.
Several years ago I had the unpleasant experience of discovering a vile young man rummaging around my handbag just in time to watch him run off into the distance with the contents. One frantic search and a mini breakdown later there was no sign of my purse but much to my surprise, my phone was found discarded near the scene of the crime. It soon became apparent said robber had assessed the stolen goods, happily taken my money then realised my phone was, for lack of a better word, sh*t, and proceeded to throw it back. Ever since, I have always opted for a less than spectacular model and as a result the world of smartphones and apps alike still eludes me slightly. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out on all the benefits that come with the use of various extremely helpful smartphone apps, but I reverted right back to the feeling of indifference upon reading about this latest development.
Computer scientists, senior lecturer Mohamed Gaber and Master’s student Lorraine Chambers from the University of Portsmouth’s School of Computing, are currently in the process of creating an app which would mean that through the use of colour coding we will know what to expect from incoming messages before we read them. The app works by automatically colour coding incoming messages as green for positive, red for negative and blue for neutral so a user can see before opening any message whether it is likely to be worrying or encouraging. By obliterating the element of surprise, their aim is to protect our moods because “messages can upset moods and increase stress level, just as good news and encouraging emails can cheer you up.” claims Dr Gaber. Created for the Android platform, the researchers are working on ways to make it freely accessible via Android Marketplace. The team are due to present their findings at the 16th International Conference on Knowledge-Based and Intelligent Information and Engineering Systems later this year and if there’s sufficient demand, it will be made available to users of iPhones and iPads.
Does this sound like something we really need or want? I will leave it up to you smartphone users to decide.