6 Ways to Beat Commuter Boredom Syndrome

For many commuting is a dreaded, but required reality. Congested hot subway stations, overcrowded trains, or road traffic...none of it is all too inviting. But tech loving folks can take advantage of this usually wasted time and turn even the most boring commute into opportunities for entertainment. Read on for some fun apps and devices to take away some of the sting out of the dreaded commute.

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Up the fun factor in your commute with these tools:

1) A Great Pair of Headphones: For those who commute via public transit or walking a fantastic pair of headphones is a must. No one likes to start their mornings listening to rant by another person on the train or the obnoxious chatter of their fellow bus passengers. Since we have had someone try and steal our headphones before while commuting, we opt for pairs that cost below $100. Our current commute headphones are the Apple Premium In-Ear Headphones for $79.

2) Books!: If commuting by car or by feet, one of our favorite ways to pass the time is with great audiobooks. Our primary source for audiobook content is our public library, because we love free things. You can download library audiobooks to your device the same way you would eBooks through the OverDrive app (Free for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7). If commuting by public transit, we prefer reading eBooks on our iPad or Kindle.

3) Sing: We know it sounds cheesy, but one of the things we miss about commuting by car is singing as loud as we like with the windows up on our way to and from work. An app that makes singing more fun is Glee (iOS); the app features songs from the show with built-in auto-tune effects (which you can turn off), helping even the most off-key singer sound not completely terrible. $.99

4) Provide Your Own Soundtrack: Of course one can provide their own commuting soundtrack by creating playlists but what we are talking about is an app that generates a soundtrack based on your environment. The Inception app (iOS), does just this by using the sound that it receives from the microphone on your device combined with music from Hans Zimmer to generate a unique, very Inception sounding soundtrack.

The app also uses GPS data from your device when creating the song as well as information about the weather in that location. The song will change as your location and speed changes. For example while we were walking home from work the other day during the heatwave it created a very sunny day soundtrack that turned into an action soundtrack when we started running. Short of having a minstrel follow us around and herald our deeds, we think this might be the closest thing we have to a soundtrack that changes based on what we are doing and where we are. Since it is the Inception app, all music generated are called "dreams," but we prefer to think of it as our personal soundtrack maker. Free

5) Gaming: We would be remiss if we did not mention public transit boredom busters such as Angry Birds, Flight Control, Drop7, and Fruit Ninja which are available across multiple platforms. The only trouble is that we often get so engrossed in these games that we miss our stop!

6) Photograph It: Obviously not the tip for those driving (we would never recommend compromising safety), but we love using apps like Instagram (iOS) on our walking or public transit commutes. We are not sure if it is the documentarian or the shutterbug in us that has us driven to look at our surroundings and their changes in a more creative way on our daily commute. Whatever the driving force is behind it, it adds up to lots of interesting images and a decrease in commute dullness. Free

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More app love from the Unplggd archives:

What's your favorite way to keep boredom at bay while commuting?

(Images: Flickr members Oli Shaw & epSos.de licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Joelle loves technology and making things and is in an almost perpetual state of problem solving. She's quite fond of airplanes and coffee and is pretty sure she will eventually read all of the books in her library.

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