Booting Up: Not-So-Instant Message: App Saves Best For Later

By Jessica Van Sack Boston Herald.

A new mobile app promises to allow anyone to send text, video and voice messages up to 25 years into the future, offering new, boundless communication potential -- in life and after death.

Incubate, a new app for iOS, is a time capsule for sentiment. Imagine hearing your grandmother wish you a Merry Christmas years after she's gone. Or on your 21st birthday, a video of your parents finding out they were having you, a new baby boy. Or on your 50th wedding anniversary, receiving a video message from the spouse who didn't live long enough to share it with you.

Users can sign up for Incubate with a Facebook account or email address. They'll see the number of messages waiting for them in the future. But they won't know when the messages are coming or who has sent them.

"We've been blown away with the creative ways people have thought about using the app," said app founder Michael McCluney, a serial entrepreneur based in Atlanta. "Some are comical, but some are extremely emotional. The range and possibilities are really limitless."

In fact, the app was inspired by one of those funnier possibilities: McCluney's friend had newborn triplets, and months of nearly zero sleep took a toll, resulting in obscenity-laced outbursts in the middle of those sleepless nights. McCluney suggested his friend record his own tirade and then send it to the kids -- as a joke -- in a future voicemail.

Recipients must own the Incubate app -- or some future version of it -- in order to receive the future message. A feature called The Nursery allows parents to create an account for their kids, and catalogue their lives as they grow.

But how to guarantee that Incubate, which is close to securing $500,000 in seed funding, even exists in 25 years? McCluney says his team believes that because users see the number of messages waiting for them, there's a natural need to hold onto them that will keep Incubate alive. And he says the desire to receive and send messages will always exist and therefore secure Incubate's long-term chances.

McCluney expects weddings to be a big draw, and is working on a way for guests to send messages to the bride and groom on their future anniversaries.

Incubate provides a great way to punk your friends, according to McCluney, who on a recent group outing decided that everyone would send a message to com- memorate the one-year anniversary of a friend refusing to do shots: "I want everyone to remember that on this day, so-and-so was a wuss."

And that's where things get weird. We all know about drunk-dialing, but what about "drinkubating?" Would your adult self want to receive messages from some drunken college buddy who you haven't thought of in decades?

There's no way to know. But I think we're about to find out.

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