Gotham Wave Games, a small technology company based in New York City, recently released an application for the iPhone that turns the device into a realistic approximation of the groovy ’60s tabletop icon. Going one step beyond the original item, the “iLava” program lets users interact with the virtual blobs of hot wax. “You can push lava around the screen with your fingers, and since the iPhone supports multi-touch, it’s possible to push blobs together and merge them, or pull them apart”, - explains Ilya Rosenberg, the chief architect of the technology that made the electronic lava lamp possible.
When creating the application, the designers wanted to make the end product as much like a physical object as possible. Julien Beguin, who designed the interaction features, elaborated: “The iPhone combines so many different interface options; it really opens doors for developers and let’s them create experiences that just aren’t possible on other platforms.” Ticking off the features of the virtual lava lamp, Beguin continued, “You can swipe the screen and the lava moves. You can tilt the phone to change the direction of gravity. You can shake it and the lava wobbles. You can hold down with up to five fingers and see the lava glow with heat in five different places. It’s very cool!”
The virtual lava does not respond to music, but that could definitely be a part of future versions. Since the iPhone is also a music player, though, you can listen to your favorite music while running iLava.” And that is, after all, the best way to enjoy a lava lamp - real or virtual. The iLava application can be downloaded from the App Store on iTunes for 99 cents. It runs on the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.