Appy daze

After dodging pedestrians the other morning — and just as an aside, and probably a long one, it’s thanks to Robert Feder that I know I wouldn’t be able to say “pedestrians” if I worked for Randy Michaels at WGN radio, nor would I be able to substitute “people fleeing on foot,” but I might get away with “ambulating hominids” or “sidewalk zombies.” Michaels sent a memo to his on-air talent listing 119 words and phrases he no longer wanted to hear, which, while laudable from a let’s-all-speak-proper-English perspective, was tainted by his encouraging said talent to rat out any fellows falling short. Plus the whole CEO micromanaging his staff aspect.

I don’t listen to WGN enough to know how egregious the talent is, but I’ve seen enough of the print media Michaels oversees (the Chicago Tribune) to know he’s got bigger fish to fry than whether ambulating hominids are called pedestrians on his station. The Trib used to be a good if stuffy paper, but now it’s kind of a sidewalk zombie, too. I wish this were a better opportunity for the Sun-Times to wade in and clean the Trib’s clock, but the Sun-Times is pretty emaciated these days. Besides, I have friends at the Trib (many of them former Sun-Times co-workers); I wish them no ill, but I sure wish them better bosses. And an occasional clock-cleaning by the S-T…

Where was I?

Dodging pedestrians. And it occurred to me there’s an app waiting to be developed for the iPhone. I’ll call it the iWalk. It splits the screen in two and uses the phone’s camera to feed video of what’s in front of you onscreen. So half the screen displays the sidewalk, the other half your playlist, or Facebook, or your e-mail — whatever you want!

It will incorporate the same technology used in cars to warn you when you’re about to run into something, so it’ll beep when you’re headed for a light post, parking meter or fellow pedestrian. Future software upgrades will let it detect “walk/don’t walk” signs and let you play individual songs or sounds (“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”) for different alerts (“Stop! In the name of love” should be a favorite for “don’t walk”).

When Apple puts a camera on the iPad, iWalk should be even more essential.

This is the kind of breakthrough that could make me a very wealthy man if I knew anything about software. Those of you who do know about software and filch this idea, please keep me in mind when the royalty checks arrive.

And if the whole idea just makes you want to lie down, well — there’s a nap for that.

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