Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

TabletPCs for Science and Science Teaching [blog entry from 2006]

  1. Aug 28, 2014 #1


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    This old blog entry is being reposted here for archival purposes
    because the blog system is being removed.​

    TabletPCs for Science and Science Teaching
    (Message originally posted by robphy on May20-06 at 06:45 PM.)

    Although the TabletPC (see also wikipedia entry on the TabletPC) was introduced in the fall of 2002, there unfortunately hasn't been a lot of software that take advantage of it. However, there have been several interesting software applications that may be useful for scientists and science students.

    I hope this post will increase awareness of the TabletPC and its potential applications in science and science education.

    Here's a sampling of what I've seen... and I hope for more!


    Some contributed images of pages produced on a TabletPC
    ... taken from a link on www.studenttabletpc.com.


    Microsoft Physics Illustrator for Tablet PC (direct link to Physics Illustrator )


    "Bring your drawings to life with the Physics Illustrator, a motion simulator for the Tablet PC. Simply draw two-dimensional bodies, connect them in various ways, and apply forces, then watch as animation makes the bodies move, collide, and interact."

    (source code is also available through Microsoft Research which came out of work done at the Magic Paper project at MIT)

    more info from
    Hypercubed Blog Quantum Diaries windojitsu.com

    ChemPad (announcement by Brown U.)


    "ChemPad, a new Tablet PC application with a pedagogical focus was designed and implemented to generate 3D molecular structures from hand drawn digital ink. This invention addresses the ChemPad system, the algorithms involved in interpreting 3D molecular structure from 2D ink, and the pedagogical design of the software."



    [*]MathPad<sup>2</sup> at Brown U.


    " MathPad<sup>2</sup> is a prototype Tablet PC application for mathematical problem solving. At the core of its functionality is the novel concept of mathematical sketching, making dynamic illustrations by combining handwritten mathematics and free-form diagrams. MathPad2 is designed so a user can create simple illustrations as if they were working with pencil and paper. Teachers can use MathPad<sup>2</sup> to quickly create illustrations to be used in their lessons and students can use the application to aid in their studies."

    3D-Journal project at Cornell

    "A long-standing dream in computer-aided design is the possibility of using freehand sketching as the language for interactive design. The ability to sketch a 3D object, predict its performance, and re-design it interactively based on physics-based feedback would bring the power of state-of-the-art CAD tools into the critical, early design phase."

    (see also: Google Sketchup )

    [*] xThink MathJournal (commercial software)


    " xThink has released MathJournal version 1.1, an interactive program for the Tablet PC that provides a natural and intuitive environment for solving mathematical and engineering problems.

    MathJournal recognizes handwritten mathematical expressions, and then displays a list of relevant solution types to the user. Whenever possible MathJournal gives the option to plot an expression."

    [*]Equation Writer (from Education Pack for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition)


    "With Equation Writer you can handwrite a math equation and convert it to text with the touch of a pen. So now, you can spend your time solving math problems, instead of formatting them."

    Actually, it converts it to a bitmap. Unfortunately, it can't be edited as text or as a "Equation Editor" object.... but it seems like it's only a step away from that or conversion to <tex>\LaTeX</tex> or Maple input.

    The Natural Log (at MIT)/Paul Viola may the source of the research which underlies the Equation Writer. matsakis99recognition.pdf is a Master's thesis on this research.


    Although not specifically for the TabletPC:

    Maple 10 has symbol recognition (see video example and Scientific Computing blog )

    The Infty Project has created Infty Reader (which tries to recognize scanned documents and convert them into LaTeX) and Infty Editor(which supports mathematical handwriting recognition... with an attempt to read back with a computerized-speech output ).

    Other attempts at mathematical handwriting recognition:
    Freehand Formula Entry System (at Queens University, Canada)
    XiangYang Feng (at Saga University, Japan)

    [*]Classroom Presenter (U Washington) (google: classroom presenter and related links at Microsoft Research ConferenceXP project)

    http://www.cs.washington.edu/research/edtech/presenter/doc/gscp_files/preview.jpg [Broken]
    (see more at http://www.cs.washington.edu/research/edtech/presenter/doc/gscp.htm)

    (see also : WriteOn! [and Vector Pad] at Virgnia Tech )

    good sites:
    (general) tabletpcbuzz.com
    (education) TabletPC Education blog studenttabletpc.com
    (developer) MSDN TabletPC

    Assorted articles:

    Microsoft Tablet PC Rapid Adoption Project at UT Austin (2002)
    TabletPCs for Architecture Students (Penn State)
    Intel Grants $57,720 for Tablet PC in Math Classes
    Rose-Hulman Receives $100,000 Microsoft Research Grant to Assess Educational Value of Tablet PC Technology
    Virginia Tech and their Tablet PCs (studenttabletpc.com)
    HP Awards More than $7 Million in Education Grants to 170 Schools Across the United States [including TabletPCs]
    Tablet PC: Transforming Education (Microsoft)

    Teaching Mathematics: Tablet PC Technology adds a new dimension (Werner Olivier)
    No More Paper for Modern Maths
    Sound use of TabletPC's (Dan Boye, Physics Department, Davidson College)
    U. West Florida's ECE TabletPC requirement
    Teachers - Can we talk about Tablet PCs and Teaching (from TabletPCbuzz.com)
    Kenricks TabletPC resources (Kenrick Mock - University of Alaska Anchorage) - "One of my interests is finding ways for educators to use Tablet PC's."

    Assorted links to classroom usage:

    Teaching Chemistry with the Tablet PC (J. Ricky Cox)
    Calculus for the Biological Sciences (Lihe Wang)
    <a href="http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/~akempf/teaching.shtml">advanced [Broken] physics class notes (Achim Kempf)
    </a><a href="http://www.physics.utoronto.ca/~peet/courses/">advanced [Broken] physics class notes (Amanda Peet)
    </a>physics class notes (R. Salgado) and some solutions (R. Salgado)

    There are probably a lot more out there. Please inform me of any you find by posting a comment.

    By the way,
    I have had a "first generation" Gateway/Motion M1200 (via archive.org) 3-lb slate since Spring 2003. Since then I have taught most of my courses using my tabletPC and a projector. Occasionally, I would post a copy of the "board notes" and homework and exam solutions online (as Windows Journal [Windows Journal Viewer] .jnt files, or as .mht, or .pdf). Since the tabletPC runs a superset of WindowsXP, I can run the standard PC software... in addition, I can show Java, VPython, and Maple animations and video clips during my lecture. (In addition, if students communicate with me via MSN Messenger, I can reply in ink (i.e. hand-drawn equations and diagrams).

    For my research, I write down a lot of private calculations using Windows Journal (which can be searched as text using handwriting recognition). Diagrams and snippings from .pdf articles can be inserted and marked up. Of course, my digital ink can be edited again later. I have fewer loose pages in my backpack now... and I don't have to carry heavy folders of notes and calculations. My TabletPC is my portable office.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I agree that the software for tablets can be pretty awesome. However, the extra cost of the hardware has always seemed to be prohibitive to me.
  4. Aug 31, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Although interesting, I don't use much of the software above.
    I do use Windows Journal (which is free and part of Windows XP tablet edition and is now included in Windows Vista, 7, and 8) for note-taking, doing detailed calculations, and lecturing as my whiteboard [when connected to a projector]. It has changed the way I work and manage my research and teaching.

    TabletPC prices have come down a lot. They used to cost more than $1000. (When they first came out in 2003, they were $3000.)
    The new entry-level Microsoft Surface Pro 3 ( http://www.microsoft.com/Surface/en-us ) isn't that much more expensive than a typical (i3 or better) ultrabook laptop nowadays... not to mention the cost of a laptop plus a non-tabletPC tablet-device.
  5. Sep 1, 2014 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I've been watching Microsoft Surface--early versions were not quite there--it may just finally be good enough to buy.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook