New devices have always been meant to improve our quality of life.  One historical case is that of Ludwig van Beethoven, who–in combination with standing closer to the source of noise–used an ear trumpet to deal with his gradual progression of hearing problems.  Sometimes, however, the use of our digital toys can go beyond their job descriptions.  Let’s take a look at the silly, the useful, and the ugly.

1.  That $2 App Might Save Your Life

The next time you have a couple bucks to redeem in the App Store, you might want to bypass Temple Run and Candy Crush.

In 2010, basketball coach Eric Cooper chose to download PhoneAid, a CPR training app, in order to reinforce his previous certification.  The very next day, one of his high school players collapsed, later realized to be a result of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a condition involving hardened heart muscle).  Because of Cooper’s decision, he was able to successfully revive the senior student and become a local hero.

Maybe the other teammates will have an excuse to ask their parents for a Smartphone.  If they’re loved, that is.

2.  Butt-Dialing Can Isolate You From Society

While no one can adequately explain why they would ever sit on their phone, or even have it in their back pocket, there are tons of butt-dialing stories going around.  There’s the time a buddy of yours called his ex-girlfriend drunk, or the time you had to listen to a voicemail with your mother talking to her mother for about ten minutes, before deciding to erase the whole thing.  But hey, at least they’re not these guys:

A few months ago, two Florida delivery drivers for Papa John’s Pizza accidentally called their customer shortly after leaving his front door.  Unfortunately, they chose to take out their frustration toward his $5.00 tip by tossing around racial remarks and epithets.  Both employees were immediately fired when the news got to CEO John Schnatter, and they likely will have trouble finding work anywhere else in the state.

3.  Your Digital Camera Might Be A Total Racist

Most digital cameras and camcorders of today come with face-recognition capability.  Though most consumers find these options to be helpful, some ethnic groups are issuing complaints.

Joz Wang, an American of Taiwanese descent, was both amused and offended at the same time when the Nikon Coolpix S630 she bought in 2010 kept sending an error message:  “Did someone blink?”  Her brother had to force his eyes wide open to get rid of the message, presumably because he now looked like a different person.  Even though Nikon is a Japanese company, their devices were being manufactured with an inadvertent bias toward the Anglo-Saxon market.

In 2009, Desi Cryer wasn’t recognized by the webcam on an HP computer.  While his Caucasian friend, Wanda, could get the lens to zoom and follow her every move, Desi was ignored.  Apparently, a darkened foreground worked against the algorithm programmed into the webcam’s software, which was built to measure contrast between the upper cheek and the nose of the user.  According to Cryer, “I think my blackness is interfering with the computer’s ability to follow me!”

It’s a good thing these users had a sense of humor.

4.  The iPhone 5s Likes Your Toes…and Nipples, Too.

Considered (at best) a predictable product launch, the new piece of Apple candy has little more than a higher resolution camera and fingerprint scanner.  What’s so fun about that?  Well, one user in Japan has figured out that the scanner, located on the surface of the phone’s home button, also works with the prints on your toes.  While this seems to make sense (toes are kind of just like fingers), how about the idea of unlocking your iPhone with your nipples?  Better (or worse) yet, how about your friend’s nipples?

Using what Tim Cook will likely call a “totally planned out” feature, you can access your personal information using some personal body parts.  That is, excluding your nose.  Just keep in mind that this security measure is designed to store more than five user IDs, potentially turning a get-together with your friends into a swingers’ party.


Editor note: Contributor Jeremy Rappaport, Lovingly written by the editorial team at Fueled, London’s premier mobile app design agency.