What could the Apple iPad do for science?

Last night, on the eve of what might be the most exciting Apple announcement this year, I wondered what a Mac slate or tablet could mean for scientists, researchers, and people in the field. Now with the iPad announced and the details of it released, here are some of my thoughts.

The increased mobility of a small device designed to be used with specialized apps and software could boost overall productivity. Functionality, combined with mobility can be incredibly useful for scientists.

For example, Wired has this list of 22 iPhone apps for science geeks that include a genetic decoder, anatomy flash cards, food information database, and a scientific calculator. These could be useful on the iPad too, since the iPad can run any apps in the store.

Increased mobile connectedness to the web can be super powerful. We are already seeing mobile technology being helpful for relief efforts in Haiti and a larger, more powerful, yet still portable, device could enhance what can be done and create new possibilities for these purposes and others.

As for ideas of specific uses of the iPad, I can imagine that a scientist could take this device into their study areas to help record data, look at maps, read reference books, and plot trails and data.

This could possibly help scientists forgo the hours and hours usually spent on data entry!!! Especially since Numbers has a function that creates a form for data entry!

I’ve also read about iPod Touches being used in classrooms to supplement math, science, language and other lessons, so the iPad might eventually make it’s way into the classroom too (but that might take a while because of cost!).

It is cool to see something like this come into being. While the iPad might not end up doing a ton for scientists, I’m still excited to see what will happen with the functionality this new tool!

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7 Responses

  1. chewbear says

    @Layla I’m not sure that type of device exists, though there might be software that can do that.

    I’m not sure why they picked iPad. I think even MacPad or iSlate would have been better. I think once more people start developing apps for it, it’ll feel more impressive. That might take some months though.

    I haven’t seen Avatar yet! I have heard a lot of things about it.

  2. Layla says

    Do you know if little portable devices already exist that can eg scan what something consists of and search in database and tell you? (eg for environmental toxics or food nutrients or such? Or is this still ‘science fiction’? I’d definitely be interested in something like this!)

    iPad – lolz for the name, heard some people online weren’t impressed with it either, so.. let’s wait if something better happens soon?

    (PS I think Avatar ‘stole’ a lot from my 1st SF romance book! lol!!:) Now I probably don’t need to write it!! Synchronicity??)

  3. Nat says

    I really like the idea of using a highly portable touchscreen computer as an extension of another, less portable computer. I’m not sure if you’ve seen Avatar yet, but they depicted some very interesting and innovative designs for futuristic computer systems, and in one scene, one of the scientists drags his stationary monitor screen onto a portable iPad-like device, which transfers the data he’s actively working on so that he can keep looking at it while walking to a different part of the lab. (Presumably, some sort of data connection between the desktop and the tablet computer could be maintained, so that perhaps the desktop’s doing all of the chugging and the tablet’s just acting as a dumb terminal; i.e., not really doing any processing itself but just displaying output from the desktop and giving some user input back to it.)

    Anyway, I really like the concept. I look forward to getting to play with one myself!

  4. chewbear says

    I’m not sure when it’ll be available internationally, but Steve Jobs mentioned in the keynote that they were hoping to have deals with international 3G carriers set by June.

  5. chewbear says

    I understand that people might be disappointed that the hardware is not as advanced as they were hoping, but I think that this is just the beginning. The iPad will only get better with future upgrades and releases. I agree that the applications and software will be the best part. There will be so much innovation for this device!! A lot of it hasn’t be developed yet, so that is why they couldn’t really say a whole lot about it, but what they did show in the keynote is just the tip of the iceberg of what is possible.

  6. Madelene Loskill says

    Alot of bloggers not too happy with this new iPad.There was just 2 much hoopla about it and lots of people got disapointed.Quite frankly, I actually see lots of the cool potential uses of the gizmo. Third-party applications for playing tunes, games, newspapers and magazines and books, tons of good stuff, but they just didn’t really sell it very well (excluding the books). It feels rather undercooked

  7. Mike Gutz says

    Apple is such a great brand. I cannot believe they are holding such great new product back for so long. When will this be out in the UK? Any1 has some more infos?