Safer 1

Safer — Mobile App Proposal

Safer is a mobile game proposal which asks the question, What will using a smartphone feel like in the aftermath of a nuclear incident?

Life goes on, but contamination fears are ever present; coping with the consequences has become a part of the fabric of daily life. The app reflects this “new normal” by matter-of-factly blending radiation advisories, tips for minimizing exposure, and other elements of its potential future into a standard suite of smartphone apps.

In presenting a post-nuclear reality as a more anxiety-filled and restricted version of our everyday humdrum lives, Safer hopes to counter the romanticization of nuclear disaster that’s prevalent enough in our media and culture to make “in a certain light, wouldn’t nuclear war be exciting?” an apparently acceptable OkCupid personality question.

Safer includes simplified but functional versions of a weather app, a medical symptoms checker, a geiger counter (currently feasible on camera phones, albeit in a rough form), a map, and a game. It may also include a basic browser, a simple chat service, an email client, an RSS news feed, and a camera application.

The weather app pulls from live open data sources to display real weather forecasts. But sometimes, it also displays acid rain advisories, or urges users to stay indoors during certain times due to contaminated winds. In the simplest version, Safer would randomly decide when to display these warnings. A more sophisticated implementation could vary the chance based on extrapolation from historical data in the aftermath of nuclear disasters such as Fukushima and Chernobyl.


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Home screen, weather alert advisory, and weather app


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Home screen showing exposure alert, exposure checklist and a safety tip pop-up

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Left two screens: Glance Corporal, a game where users have to quickly spot suspicious objects. Right most screen: photo app always offers the option to report suspicious objects.

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Mapping app shows other socially-sourced Geiger readings from other users. When mapping directions, routes are color coded to show if they pass by high Geiger reading measurements.


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Left screens: The Geiger counter runs automatically in the background and an alert pops up if it’s dangerously high.
Rightmost screen: Nuclear news alert interrupts text message.

Safer seeks to deglamorize, deromanticize, and generally desexify the way we imagine post-nuclear life. Safer presents that life as mundane and dull—just as humdrum as our own lives often are—and also even more inconvenient, anxiety-inducing, controlled, confined, restricted, and regimented.

The hope is that by party pooping on the apocalypse bad boy fantasy, we may help to dampen the delusional and self-destructive yearning for catastrophe—to offer an antidote for that poisonous longing that contaminates and undermines our psyches and our conscious efforts to prevent that which our best selves understand would be terrible, preventable tragedy.

With Ilya Zarembsky