Christopher Hawkins has a post from last Friday wherein he describes his "dream" software projects. The funny thing is that he refers to them as "silly", but they seem like pretty real and useful projects to me. The film production system, in particular, sounds like a fun project to work on.
While I wouldn't say that mine are quite "dream" projects, there are a couple of systems I've always thought would be a lot of fun to work on.
Poker Machines for Casinos -- Partially because I enjoy playing some poker myself and partly because I think there would be some interesting problems to solve. There have been a number of products announced that bring the "automated" world of online poker into casinos, bars, or other hangouts.
Note that this is NOT video poker of the "Jacks or better" variety. In some cases, the game is still "regular" poker, but everyone around the table plays the hand via a touchscreen and there's no dealer. In other cases, it might be a small table where two people can play heads-up while they wait for a seat at a regular table or while hanging out at a bar and watching a game. There are enough differences between these "electronic tables" and regular online poker software to make it pretty interesting.
Elevator Control Systems (for high-rises) -- This is the one that usually gets a laugh when I tell people about it. But if you imagine a tall building with multiple tenant types (retail, offices, or residential apartments, etc), then there are some intriguing things to consider. How do you optimize the flow and availability of a car at any given time? If an car's at rest, do you send it to a certain floor to wait for a call? During the morning, you have one type of flow (from the ground floors up to the offices) and in the late afternoon it's the opposite. What about lunch hours? How do you handle things like redundancy or failover if a car has to be taken out of service for repair? What can you provide facilities and security with in the way of monitoring and management?
Both of these seem interesting to me as intellectual projects... but I think what intrigues me is that they both offer a lot of opportunity for data visualization and some infoporn. In both cases, you can imagine administrative/monitoring interfaces that provide all sorts of interesting views of data (historic poker hands) and state (elevator state).
I'm interested in reading what sort of "dream" projects others write about.