Monday, April 17, 2017

YouVersion's New Verse Tracker Feature

Project Status: Progress Made
Original Post: Teleprompter Mode for Bible App

The App

The YouVersion Bible App is awesome. If you haven't checked it out you should, it's free and one of the best out there. Don't worry, they don't pay me to say that, I am not affiliated with them, just a user and these are my opinions.

The Original Post

Originally I had posted a feature request similar to YouVersion's new "Verse Tracker" feature rolling out now.

Teleprompter Mode for Bible App

http://thelucidmonkey.blogspot.com/2017/01/teleprompter-mode-for-bible-app.html
I think there should be some neat way of highlighting the current position. A simple way for the development team to do that would be to use the highlighting or underlining feature for verses...

The New Feature

As you can in this animated screenshot from the Bible App the new "Verse Tracker" feature will mark each verse of the Bible as you listen along with it being read aloud to you. This is a super cool new addition to the already amazing app.

Since you are not locked into the current verse being stuck in focus, you can easily scroll around and come back to it while listening. In this way the marker continues to "track" with the audio clip even if you scroll away.

I would like to feel like I had something to do with this new feature, but I can't take any of the credit. Those developers are doing a great job at YouVersion and they made a lot of great design choices while implementing this new feature.

Another New Feature

There is also a new feature called the "Verse Scrubber," according the release notes on April 15, 2017. Obviously these notes will change with new versions of the Bible app, but here is a snippet of what it said with this release:

WHAT'S NEW

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sirma.mobile.bible.android
The Verse Scrubber allows you to easily select the exact verse you want to hear
I really like this idea, it is leaning towards another feature request I have been thinking of but haven't actually posted about yet. Being able to play a single verse from the passages rather than trying to find a specific location within an entire chapter's audio clip sounds very useful.

My only problem is that I haven't figured out how to find or use this new "Verse Scrubber" feature yet. If someone can show it to me or teach me how I will gladly add more information about it here for others.

Until then enjoy the app and keep up the good work guys.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bible Spelling Game - The Beginnings

Project Status: Design Phase


The Idea

If you are interested in the original idea posted here on this blog, then please be sure to check it out. As of today I am beginning to put pencil to paper in an attempt to try my hand at making this app.

The Target User Group

First I will try to get the smallest simplest version of the idea running that I can. During that development phase it could be referred to as an Alpha version. I, the developer, would be the only one able to use it until a stable enough version was made so that I could release a Beta version.

The Beta version would, in theory, be available on the Android Play Store. This version would be very limited in features, but would allow many different types of devices to begin using the app.

At first I plan to only market to Android devices. IOS is not something I want to get into at this time, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't eventually branch out to IOS at some point, if things seemed to be running smoothly.

Furthermore; the audience will be limited to Android version 6.0 and up, at least in the beginning. At the time of this posting that is unfortunately only 36.1% of Android devices in use according to the Android developer's dashboard. I would limit to this version because as I add features, several extra permissions may be required. Android 6.0, aka Marshmallow, and up have the ability for users to approve permissions. The versions below that force users to choose between accepting all permissions or not using the app. I want users to have control over which extra permissions are allowed, so that means I am limited to Android 6.0 or higher.

The App's Goal

For users of the app I would hope the goal would be to learn to spell Bible names, places and words better over time. I'm hoping they would even have a little bit of fun doing so, maybe evening sparking more Bible engagement.

On the back-end of the app the goal would be to learn from common misspellings of words within the Bible so that Bible apps would have more insight potentially allowing for better search results within Bible apps. While I do not work for or develop any Bible apps, I would like to freely provide any information learned from this app to existing Bible app companies in hopes of helping them out with what they do.

While any of that may or may not happen, I should be able to learn from my progress or my defeat here. I have always had tons of app ideas and projects to work on but have never completed any of them. So hopefully pushing myself to work on this project will help me to improve my coding skills and to learn more about Android app development in general.


Down The Road

The plan is to start out small and slowly expand over time. One feature I would really like is to have the app read out a Bible verse to the user. While hearing a verse read aloud it will be also written on the screen. One of the words read aloud will be missing from the verse shown on the screen and in its place will be a blank line.

One way to accomplish that would be to obtain permission from something like the listener's Bible, which already has many versions of the Bible available in audio format. That option might be costly or not available for me, I am not sure though and would need to check into it.

Another interesting way to provide audio verses would be to allow users to record their own readings, both for themselves to study from and to share for others to learn from. This option would provide several unique pronunciations for complicated words, and that alone would help immensely in trying to learn how different people say and spell Biblical words. Technically speaking though; this would be difficult because I would need to find a way to store lots of audio files and to moderate them to prevent any intentional misuse.

An easy option would be to connect to a text-to-speech app already on the market. This provides a very lightweight and simple solution from a development standpoint, but at the same time loses all the great things about the previous two formats mentioned. As you can imagine, when a robo-voice pronounces very unknown words by trying to emphasize each letter, there will be a major difference in how people spell words than how those same people would have spelled them having heard a human's pronunciation.

Summary

Who knows how far this project will go or if it will even even get off of the ground, but here's to trying. I know there are some obstacles ahead that I can see now and I'm sure there are plenty that I know nothing about yet. This should be pretty difficult though seeing as I am such a horrible speller myself that I have never published an app, but here goes. I'll try to keep you posted during the process, but don't hold your breath.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tango - Augmented Reality Maze

Project Status: App Idea

Requirements

This app would require a Google Tango device to run, though it would be much more fun with multiple devices synced together playing at once.

The Setup

I have always found maze running in real life to be quite interesting. If you aren't quite sure what I am referring to here yet, think about those hay bale mazes that kids play in, or those huge hedge mazes that you always see at castles in the movies.

The Idea

I would love to make an app that used Google Tango to build a dynamic maze over the user's current environment. It would start out using the space it can see around it to dynamically draw the maze and then the maze would develop as the user walks around to explore new space.

The Mechanics

Real walls seen in the real world would correspond to walls within the augmented reality game. The app would draw more walls in a walk-able maze pattern between any space the user walks through when it is large enough to do so.

When users either accidentally or by attempting to cheat cross any of the virtual barriers the game will guide them back somewhere close to the point where they left the maze so that the game may continue.


The barriers which the maze is composed of could either be very high or relatively low. A more difficult game would include barriers so high that the players​ could not see over them. On the other hand, an easier type of gameplay would allow users to see over the walls and around the maze near them.

It would then be quite simple to add in obstacles and goals within the maze. For example; the player could be searching for one specific exit marker. Once able to touch the exit the current level of the maze would be completed.

Changing from one level to the next could happen in an elevator type of motion. Meaning that the current level sinks into the ground and the next level scrolls down over the user's environment as the player levels up. Each level could have a unique look and feel such as hay bales, stone walls, green hedges, neon glowing and so on.

Many choices could be made with this type of game format such as allowing users to save games to continue later on at the same location, setting timers for the players to beat when solving the puzzles (although this may encourage running and overwhelm the current version of Tango), including different types of barriers either to choose from or as different levels to complete and so on.

As some games have the ability to provide hints when players begin to get stuck or frustrated, in this game you could do something fun like showing footprints where the player has been and maybe even fading them out over time so that it is easier to see which tracks are the freshest.


Summary

Overall I think it would be a lot of fun to see a virtual maze dynamically built in my current environment. Then I could get a lot of exercise trying to move around to find my way out of it; hopefully with nothing scary chasing me around.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tango - Rubik's Cube

Project Status: App Idea

Requirements

This app would require a Google Tango device to run. It would also require permission to use the Rubik's Cube game concept or ability to adapt the idea so that it does not infringe on any copywritten or trademarked material.


The Idea

I think it would be cool to make an augmented reality app for the Rubik's Cube, and I know that has been done quite a bit before but this idea puts a slightly new twist on the game. You would want a few different modes for the gameplay so that the user can choose the best one for the moment.

Normal Apps

One mode would be like any old Rubik's Cube app you have seen before. It would have the cube displayed center screen with the ability to either swipe parts of the cube to solve it, use two fingers to change the orientation of the cube and it would also have some simple controls displayed to each side of the cube which allows you to accomplish the same results.

Augmented Reality Versions

Another mode would be the augmented reality mode you would probably expect to see, which is to display the cube somewhere and of some size in the user's environment. The user would have the ability to walk around and see the cube stay in its given place within the environment. There would be the same set of controls provided in the first mode but with some added physics to allow the user to manipulate the cube with respect to the environment. For example; maybe they would have the option to pick it up and place it somewhere else, or to pinch it and change the size of it.

The New Twist

One thing that I think hasn't been done before, and something such as Google Tango could be used to provide, is the ability to walk inside the cube and solve it from within. Imagine if you had an augmented reality Rubik's Cube in your environment and were solving it on your Google Tango device. Then when you got close enough to it you could pop inside of it. If the cube was very small it would be resided to a very large size.

It could even do things such as snap to the size of the room you are in, giving the impression that you were shifting the walls around to solve the puzzle. The point being once inside no matter which direction you look you will want to see several of the surfaces in order to keep the game interesting and playable. The controls could be pretty much the same as before. You could either touch and swipe a section to rotate the pieces and solve it, or you could tap controls near the edges of the screen.

Summary

The simple idea is to use Google Tango to allow players to solve a Rubik's Cube from the inside, something which as far as I know has not been tried before. I have tired to contact Rubik's Cube to obtain permission to make this app but have not heard back from them.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Crisis Relief Mobile Refueling Station

Project Status: Draft

The Problem

When trying to evacuate an entire city, or large areas at once, there are bound to be difficulties in handling the logistics. One problem I see is that once traffic becomes stagnate standing vehicles begin to run out of gas. Once vehicles run out of gas they cause more strain on an already overwhelmed traffic system. This leaves many people stranded, often times in great danger because it likely happened during a natural disaster. These situations always clog the roadways, especially evacuation routes, which is why we should try to do what we can to help traffic flow.

The Idea

If I had the time and the money I would design a fleet of mobile crisis refueling units. I think tanker trucks which already supply fuel to gas stations should be equipped with the proper hoses, nozzles and safety measures to accommodate the dispensing of fuel to individual roadside vehicles. Imagine if traffic was at a standstill during an evacuation and someone was able to supply fuel to needing automobiles from the roadside.

The most difficult obstacles to be considered in making this a reality would be along the lines of safety and feasibility. Designing a refueling unit which is able to both carry a large quantity of fuel and manage the terrain is no simple task.

Safety

There are obvious problems with static electricity, fire suppression systems and defending against the weather itself (iced over roadways or rising winds and precipitation from inbound storms). Each of these will all need to be considered while designing the mobile refueling stations. What if something does go wrong? There must be an automatic cutoff system and an automated fire suppression system.

Feasibility

If you design vehicles that can handle driving on the shoulder of the road in inclement weather conditions with large quantities of fuel, is it still cost effective to use these units on a regular basis or do they sit waiting for their time to shine? Are there already military vehicles for this or a similar purpose that are not used for civilians but could be modified to do so? If they are agile enough to handle the uneven, unstable and narrow terrain they will be squeezed through will they ever be able to hold enough fuel to become useful?


I don't think the standard tanker trucks we have now could do a great job at refueling vehicles in standing traffic on the highways, at least not by passing traffic on the shoulder. However; there are clever ways of better utilizing the roadways so that these tanker trucks, with little modification, could do so.

One way existing tanker trucks could be utilized is by having them drive on the nearly empty side of the highway during an evacuation. This simply means setting them up as a mobile refueling station with much longer hoses in order to reach the far side of the highway.


Summary

I think that providing people with easier access to fuel stations during an active evacuation would help everyone in the situation. Of course this idea is only meant for when traffic has already slowed down to a halt, or almost to one. I should also mention that haven't looked around and have no idea if this is already being done, but if it isn't then someone needs to get on it.

What is a "draft" post?

This post is still in a draft state. Meaning that I have not done any or have done very little research about this topic. It also means that I hope to come back at some point and update the post with clearer descriptions and any applicable graphics related to the clarification of the idea.

I have basically only outlined my rough idea here until a point when I have time to come back and flesh this post out into something more useful to others. I went into a little more detail on another post about why there are so many pipe dream drafts on this blog.

It is notable to mention that the more views this page gets and the more interest it gathers, the more likely I will be to work on it before other drafts on this blog.