Friday, December 31, 2010

Advice wanted: 'Home space' screensaver hooked to persistent universe?

My brother and sister-in-law got me a $50 gift certificate to iTunes for Christmas this year, which has had me snatching up a whole bunch of paid iPhone apps for the first time in my life; an entire new screen of them now, in fact, and still with something like eight dollars left. One of the things I picked up just on a lark is an app called Yoritsuki, which has turned out to be one of the most clever relaxation gadgets and white-noise generators I've ever seen; it essentially renders a persistent Japanese-inn-style home space every time you boot it up, where every single element is the result of a deep customization process that the program remembers from visit to visit, and where the view, animations and sounds change depending on your local weather and period of the day. In my case, then, I have it set to play the sounds of a soothing rainstorm every time it's booted up; and once it's on-screen, the app basically goes into a non-sleep mode, presenting this subtly animated landscape and resulting New Age alarm-clock noises as long as you want, and including a sleep timer built in.

This is brilliant, I think, and I've instantly become addicted to mine; and at $1.99 a pop over at the App Store, God only knows how much its developers are raking in these days. So it's gotten me thinking -- wouldn't it actually be pretty easy to create something like this as a screensaver for a full-sized desktop or laptop computer, so that the persistent environment would pop up every time your computer went to sleep? And wouldn't it be easy to marry a whole plethora of animations to the real-time information about your physical environment that's streaming into that computer anyway, so that the view shows rain or snow at the exact same moment it's happening in your real neighborhood, or shows the wind blowing at the exact same rate it's actually blowing outside your physical home? And wouldn't it be equally easy to even marry things like an email account, so that for example those hanging lamps you're seeing would glow red whenever you have new mail? And that way it would not only be sorta like a personal little MMO environment but even a useful way to glean important information like the weather and your email status in a glance?

So what enterprising young programmer wants to create this with me, and sell it for two bucks at the Mac App Store when it opens next year, so that we all become rich like those lucky sons-of-bitches at "Angry Birds?" Let me know if this would really be as easy as I imagine, or if there are hidden complications that I'm not thinking about.

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