The ‘Look Up’ app will make someone a lot of money

Everyone has at least one good idea in them that could make them very rich, or at least we’d all like to believe so.

For about two years now, I’ve had an idea for a smartphone app that I’ve thought would make me fabulously wealthy if I could ever get the technical know-how to do it, or at least doggedly pursue someone who could.

Alas. Much time has passed, and I’m pretty sure nothing will ever come of this gloriously brilliant thing creeping around inside my brain, so the next best thing is to sort of pretend to gloat about how clever I am, while ultimately being disheartened as I am again thwarted.

Anyway, the other day (a couple years ago) I was lost in New York City, so I spent many hours wandering the sprawling metropolis and its – to my mind – byzantine public transit system trying to get from the Bronx to a certain part Queens, although I didn’t know the address. But that is another story and shall be told another time.

The important thing is I watched an awful lot of people, and tried not to do so in a creepy way or anything, but almost no one looks up and very few people talk on the subway, except maybe on the phone. The crush of millions of strangers you’ll likely never see again makes people inclined to be less talkative, I suppose. But, I thought, I bet most people have one or two things in common they’d love to talk about.

Later I got a smartphone, and began to look at the apps. I just checked again, and there are now a few more “detector” apps, but there used to just be a few dozen iterations of a thing called the “Gaydar” app, which is useful for helping gay people find one another so long as they have an iPhone, have downloaded that app, and have it activated. Which is to say, not very.

But in function, letting you know there are people however nearby, presumably with some similar interests – in function it’s marvelously brilliant. It’s just limited.

So now, after all of that build up, my great idea was this: an app that lets you search for people based on whatever info tags you create and give yourself. If you like Planet of the Apes, it will show you people (using the app) who list Planet of the Apes or “How I Met Your Mother” as an interest. Or people from Texas, people able to speak Guatemalan Spanish, people with Education degrees. In function, you just put in what you’re looking for, and then for yourself, whatever you’d want people to find.

It might be more complicated, but I’m sure still possible, to have it so that, for example, people from Odessa could see that you went to Odessa High, and people who’d also gone to Odessa High could see what year you graduated. And so on.

Ultimately, you’d also want to get push notifications telling you that some of your most fervent and arcane interests had someone nearby you could talk to. (“Oh gosh, ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ is my favorite book, too!)

Technology has the power to bring people together, but usually it’s over a distance. That’s why we’re always staring down into our palms instead of looking at the faces of those around us. We’re looking at a wormhole to those closest to us that we know so well. But there’s something to the joy that can spark out of a random conversation with someone unknown, even if you need an icebreaker to do it.

…Well anyway, I think it’s brilliant.

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