Isn't It Ironic? 'Unplug Day' Gets Smartphone App

PHOTO Smartphone app to help go off the grid.
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If you're a smartphone-toting technophile, chances are you're used to "checking in." But a new application wants to give you a way to "check out" -- at least for the next 24 hours.

To help people observe the second annual "National Day of Unplugging," which starts at sundown today, the non-profit Jewish network Reboot launched a smartphone application to remind people to turn off their phones and send messages to friends about their decision to go off the grid.

"We're not anti-technology. We completely recognize the value and importance of technology in today's world in connecting people and for work," said Amelia Klein, program director for Reboot. But "people are saturated with technology, it consumes our lives ..… The Sabbath Manifesto and the National Day of Unplugging asks people to take stock of their lives … take a pause from our frenetic existence, unplug and reconnect with the things most important to us."

The Sabbath Manifesto "Check Out" app, is like the "inverse" of location-based social network Foursquare, said Klein.

Instead of letting friends know that you've arrived at a particular place, the app automates outgoing messages to Twitter and Facebook to tell friends that you're taking a temporary break from technology.

The irony of using a high-tech app to promote a no-tech day is not lost on its founders.

"We realize the irony of using social media to get the word out but it's been successful for us in reaching a wide audience and encouraging people to unplug," said Klein.

The app is available for Android phones, Blackberrys and iPhones by texting REBOOT to 738674.

But before you unplug, take a look at a few other of our favorite apps below.

Word Lens Translates in Real-Time

You know the feeling. You're in a foreign country, but you haven't mastered the foreign language, and you just want a quick, easy way to translate signs and menus.

A new iPhone app now has a solution.

Taking translation tools to a whole new level, Word Lens uses the iPhone's built in video camera to translate printed words in real-time.

Just pull up the application and look at the words you want to translate through the iPhone. Instantaneously, the words appear on the screen in the language you understand.

The application itself is free, but the in-app dictionaries cost $4.99 each. At the moment, the app offers only Spanish to English and English to Spanish. (It's compatible with the iPhone 3Gs, the iPhone 4 and the iPod Touch with video camera.)

The app's founders, Otavio Good and John DeWeese, took two and a half years to build the app, which relies on Optircal Character Recognition technology, TechCrunch reported.

"It tries to find out what the letters are and then looks in the dictionary. Then it draws the words back on the screen in translation," Good told the popular tech blog.

Virgin Atlantic App Helps Fight Fear of Flying

To help travelers overcome a fear of flying, Virgin Atlantic launched an iPhone application based on the airline's "Flying Without Fear" course, which the company says has a 98 percent success rate.

Launched in partnership with developer Mental Workout, the application is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, includes relaxation and fear therapy exercises, frequently asked questions and a video that explains a flight from start to finish.

It even features a "fear attack button" for emergencies, with breathing exercises and quick tips.

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