App-aritions: Five Spooky Tech Solutions for Halloween 2016

Jack-o'-lanterns facing each other

Has any corner of popular culture not been bitten by the tech bug? Answer: no. And Halloween, one of the world’s spookiest festivals, is no exception. Last year Internet service provider Windstream even produced an infographic showing how the event will be celebrated in 2025. Connected home devices, gadgets and the Internet of Things will revamp security; enable virtual reality ghost hunters and even allow people to 3D print their Halloween decorations.

It may still only be 2016 but there are already a raft of items that can give this year’s Halloween celebrations a distinctly tech touch. Here are five Red Herrinfound particularly spooky.

1. Motion detectors for a chilling thrill

Few fairgrounds would be complete without a cobweb-laden ghost house. With cheaper and more accessible motion detection technology, revelers will be able to turn their own home into a warren of scary traps and triggers.

In 2013 Control4, a home automation firm, presented ‘Scared Haunt’, a fully-automated haunted house using its technology to control everything from fog machines and ‘blood fountains’.

Control4 claims that what once would have taken hours, can now be achieved in just a few minutes. Its platform could also be used to stream spooky sounds and music throughout a home. Imagine visiting that horror on some unsuspecting trick-or-treaters.

2. Discover your own poltergeist

History has been studded with ersatz attempts to locate or weed out ghosts. Thankfully today’s technology offers the best chances yet, to become the world’s first successful ghost hunter.

Many hauntings include reports of rising air temperatures or fluctuations in heat. Thermographic cameras, also known as thermal imagers, are no longer the preserve of national militaries. In fact, Seek Thermal has devised an imager that can be plugged directly into a smartphone.

To be fair, its Compact product range is best used in search and rescue situations. But that doesn’t mean you can’t buy one and search for a ghoulish follower. The results may be harder to detect than a wildfire. But nobody said ghost-hunting was easy.

3. Create a deathly drone

Drone technology is still flying along at a breathtaking pace. Whether your price point is closer to the $37 Hubsan X4, or a $1,000-plus option such as the Autel Robotics X-Star, you can create a flying menace this Halloween.

Just think of the options. Strap on an old sheet for a hovering ghoul, or add a scary mask for a floating terror to test even the hardiest of Halloween souls. Be careful with your skills, though: trick-or-treaters’ heads don’t make for good landing spots.

4. Vamp it up with virtual reality

VR has become 2016’s tech buzzword. Google Cardboard can be purchased for just a few bucks, and it boasts a number of horror-themed adventures that will scare you silly (and probably make you look rather silly, too) for a fraction of the cost of building a haunted house.

Live action thriller 11.57 is widely considered a pinnacle of the genre, and its ghostly set pieces are sure to elicit a big fright. Other titles include House of Terror VR; Catatonic; Sisters and Black Mass, a truly baffling narrative that begins with you having been drugged and trapped in a garage (warning: it doesn’t get better from there
on in).

5. Turn yourself into the undead

There isn’t anything scarier than a zombie, right? Perhaps picturing yourself as a foot soldier in the army of the undead is even spookier. Building on the success of its first outing, California-based maker Tyffon has created ZombieBooth 2, an Android app that can turn any 2D portrait into a terrifying, 3D animated zombie.

The platform offers over 200,000 “zombie variations to pinpoint your undead döppelganger”, according to the company’s website. You can even zombify your pet cat or dog. The nightmares that might induce, though, could be too worrying to contemplate.