Apps that keep you running

Science, Technology 2013-03-07

Apps are everywhere and are becoming more and more part of our daily lives. We now have apps for pretty much everything and can download then on numerous devices. This said, how useful really are the apps we use and do they fulfill the functions we expect?


Zombies, Run!

In comes Zombies, Run!, an app designed to get people on the move and not just walking, actually running. This app claims to complete this task by making people believe they are being chased by zombies. The only way to escape is by running. Fast. Using a GPS, the app knows what terrain you’re on and can adapt accordingly.

The first thing likely to spring to mind upon reading about zombies, chasing and running is to laugh. Many might think it utterly ridiculous. However, the trend seems to be spreading and there are now runs being organised where participants are chased by ‘zombies’ to get them running. Runners are given a belt with stick-on ‘lives’ that the zombies must remove. The result, it would seem, is a mix of adrenaline, screaming and running.

Now, in the UK, the NHS is considering trialling this method of adrenaline-fuelled exercise to fight obesity. It is thought that by tricking the body’s natural survival system into believing something is after it (in this case zombies), people might start exercising. While it is not yet known how the NHS intends on using this adapted version of Zombies, Run!, this approach is an interesting one.

Apps have been used for several years now as a health care aide (giving information about diseases etc.), but to develop apps as direct therapies is an unusual approach that could lead to many new treatment ideas.



Another app that uses geographical location data is Ingress, an Android app. The game is still invitation only, but its popularity is growing.

When you join Ingress, you have the option to choose between two teams with very limited information. The two sides then confront each other and try to get each other’s ‘portal’. Portals are real-life monuments or landmarks. Due to this, geographical information is collected through your phone’s GPS for Ingress to create a model of your actual environment. To play, you have to be near to a registered portal, so this limits where people can engage with the game. You actually have tophysically move around places to attack the enemy and to get ‘energy’ to keep you alive.

Again, this app encourages people to move about. If someone wants to play, they do not have a choice. Participants can play wherever they are so long as they are near a portal. They could use the game to help discover new locations.


So are these apps ways of getting people fit or means of entertainment? Do the apps you download fulfill the initial reasons you have for getting them? Maybe at Notch these apps could help make us the fastest marketing agency in the Manchester 10k run… Let me know your thoughts @ClareatNotch.