Inventing for Mobile


A while back (2010) I posted two articles:
Inventing for the Internet the Early Years 1995-2005
Inventing for the Internet Part 2 – A Message is a Medium
which detailed inventing for the Web and its various sub genres like e-mail,  chat and social media.

For the last 15 years I have also been inventing for mobile.  There are a couple aspects to mobile that are different than the traditional Web on stations – or even laptops:

1. LOCATION – mobile can be anywhere
2. SIZE – mobile is portable and fits in the hand
3. TILT – mobile has tilt interface

There are also newer interfaces that stations have and mobile does too like multitouch, camera and soon, translation.  I created tools to assist in modeling these before they were available.  (


One of the first apps I designed for Mobile was PhoneSays in 2000.  This app would give you a list of things that you had to do based on theme – like Party, Lineup, Spy, etc.  You had to do these things wherever you happened to play the game.  So it was the mix of instructions in some unknown location – that juxtaposition that made the game interesting.  Imagine being told to hop when in a line, etc.  Sort of had a dare type feel to it.

During the early 2000’s I prototyped a number of apps relating to notes in space, communication for drivers, etc.  I co-developed many useful ideas like taxi hailing, restaurant locators, etc. as I worked with students in Interactive Multimedia – Multimedia Pioneering Classes.  These were the types of useful apps the students would always think of first along with everyone else in the world.  To be inventive, you can’t always take your first idea – that often will be everyone else’s first idea.


It was not until the advent of the “Smart Phone” that I launched apps.  The apps below are not all my apps – you can see all the apps in the Dan Zen Museum Explore Section.  Note that all the mobile apps are their name followed by .mobi as top level extenstion (rather than .com for instance).


Touchy is the mobile game where players try to touch each other’s screens without letting their own be touched.  To get an idea of what happens when the game is played see Touchy.TV where hosts Kayla and Alex commentate on game play in night clubs, conferences, living rooms, etc.  Touchy is a social game that was created with a cause in mind – the game allows us to look up from that little device and get physical again – with an excuse!

I also vowed to keep marketing Touchy as opposed to moving on to new things.  Hence, the work on Touchy.TV and the Touchy Facebook page with the Touchy Duel app that lets you challenge your friends to a game of Touchy.  Touchy made it on to Dragon’s Den on TV- a show where entrepreneurs demonstrate their wares before a panel of investors.

WAVY 2011

Wavy is a rather obvious one that makes use of the tilt technology.  It acts like a Theremin to change the pitch of sound depending on tilt.

HANGY 2012

“Express yourself with Hangy! Put the Hangy app on a wearable device and give greets to people as you walk by, promote a cause at a conference, or just let your schoolmates know you are grouchy! The possibilities are endless as you can use your own pictures or phrases as well.”  Hangy is also fairly obvious but nobody is doing it – they are all waiting for electronic fibres for screens in clothing, etc.  They are missing an obvious opportunity.

TILTY 2013

Tilty is the physical mobile game for two or more players where you try to make other players tilt their device. Imagine bumping with Beckham… grappling with Gosling… catching Emma Stone in your web of wondrous moves or playing Tilty at a Great Gatsby Party!”  Tilty is the follow-up game to Touchy.  I think it is a better game and wish I started with it…  instead of going after the device, players keep their device out of the way and level while they physically jostle one another.  This is an invention on par with Jousting and Fencing.


Put your tablet into a helmet and view the world through your camera. We will show you how! Then use Trippy to overlay effects like inverted colors, kaleidoscopes, etc.  Another obvious one – mediated reality has advantages over virtual reality like the Oculus Rift.  Mediated reality lets you partake in the real world.  I used a shoebox and a bicycle helmet put together with velcro in one hour to create a $200,000 helmet from 1995 – and yet nobody is doing it.


“Control your friends or let them control you. Droner is a free multiuser mobile app that lets you send over 150 drone-voice message to your friend. Best to play in the same room so you can see the results.” Droner harkens back to the Phone Says idea but yet is different.  It is like a dare game or just to get the feeling of control and being controlled – both have their thrill.  The game makes use of Robin – the Flash Feathers Multiuser Server I developed in the early 2000’s.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s