What if we tried icons that behaved in a similar way to Windows 10’s Start Menu when they have alerts? Not by way of 3D animations but even just a simple icon overlay. If an application (say Thunderbird) had a notification (new email), a simple Gaussian blur would cover the image and the number of waiting alerts on top.
To continue the Thunderbird example, when an email arrives in my inbox, the overlay would appear and drop a nice little 1 on top of the blur. This effect would last for maybe 3-5 seconds and then would disappear. For every new email after that the number would increase until the application is noticed.
I’m working on a concept in Premiere as we speak.