Is Your Phone Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

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Smartphone manufacturers make the devices as blank canvases, and users turn that hardware into magical machines. Through what, you ask? Through the lifeblood of our pristine handsets that we call App! How so? With the right apps, you can turn your lifeless gizmo into musical instruments, game consoles, business machines, or even video players! What’s not to like?

But, are you sure you’re getting the best of your device? Or are you just scratching the surface no deeper than the LCD screen protector? Let’s dig in and find out what more can you scratch with your pristine gadget to make it smarter!

#1: Forecast the Weather

Do you always rely on the widget for weather forecasting? Well, it has indeed accurate readings that could give you heads-up on weather conditions—if and only if you are using 3G or connected on the internet wirelessly. But with the app OpenSignal, you can now predict the weather even if you are not connected on the internet! Sweet! How does it work? They make use of the sensors in Android phones that are designed to measure battery temperature, light, and pressure to astoundingly generate accurate weather reports! For now, the app is more on reporting. But OpenSignal says that prediction would definitely be the next step.

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#2: Smartphone-Operated Satellite

To name the smartphone, a Google Nexus One was to said to go out in space—not in the astronaut’s pocket, but for powering a satellite. The “nanosatellite”, as what it was named, will then be running experimental apps to gather data from space.

#3: Save the Rainforests

Wait… what? Phones can save the rainforests? They sure do! These phones are used to detect chainsaws or illegal logging—don’t laugh; this is a serious business. There has been a report from New Scientist that says, “The phones are outfitted with solar panels specifically designed to take advantage of the brief periods when light reaches the forest floor. Their microphones stay on at all times, and software listens for the telltale growl of a chainsaw, which triggers an alert.”

#4: Chemical Warfare Attack Detector

Most phones are now being equipped of anti-virus to prevent exploits. How about chemical warfare?  These days, US Department of Homeland Security wishes for smartphones to run anti-chemical warfare software. By just equipping cheap chemical sensors, which is said to be “a buck a sensor,” it can sense anything from chlorine leaks to sarin gas attacks. This is referred to as the Cell-all program. The primary objective of this technology is to sniff out suspicious substances. Although its practicality is still moot as of now, the technology is said to be currently moving to the proof-of-principle stage.

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#5: Cellphone for Driving

Can’t get enough of Google’s self-driving cars that cost a whopping $30,000? Check out what the students at Australia’s Griffith University can offer. These students have driven using only a smartphones. You may ask, isn’t that dangerous? And to ask some serious question, how did they do that? Instead of using LIDAR sensors and stacks of cameras, the prototype they have built relied mainly on the phone’s camera and built-in GPS.

Well, if I may ask again, is your phone smarter than a fifth grader? Explore your device and get the best of it from bits to pieces!

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