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A New Interface for Calculators

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    New Scientist this week has a story about a novel interface for calculators. The demonstration movie is particularly striking. I assume that it will work out-of-the-box on Tablet PCs.

    I think that indeed this interface is more "natural" for those of us who do not use calculators all day and every day. Practitioners have presumably already made the necessary learning to adapt to the calculator interface. For more infrequent users (e.g. me), this new interface would really help - and it ties right back into how I learned mathematics with pen and paper.

    A good interface should disappear when you're using it - it should never, ever, get in the way. That's one of the reasons why I hated with a passion the old Reverse Polish interfaces on the original HP calculators, and why I still end up with wrong answers on today's calculators - the interface is fighting with what I learned with pen and paper.

    I've downloaded the software, and am trying it out on my PC, which has a graphics tablet. If this works, then I'll be able to consign the Windows Calculator application to the dustbin of history...

    P.S. I simply adore the title of the web page at the University of Swansea.

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    haha I have to say I loved the title too Tongue Out

    And as for this calculator it looks really interesting, however I have already noticed it seems to take its time in converting the 'handwriting input' into numbers and symbolic characters.

    This would annoy the hell outta me on simple calculations I would probably work out by the time it had even come up, but for more advanced stuff I guess I could wait 1-2 seconds.

    I tried playing with the java calc but couldn't get it to run but the movie's cool, cheers for sharing Smiley

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    MathJournal for the Tablet PC has done all that (and much more) for over a year. 

    Looks like sloppy reporting from New Scientist and academic hype from Swansea Sad

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    Heh, when I saw this I immediately thought of a slightly different solution set than the author intended

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    jonathanh wrote:
    MathJournal for the Tablet PC has done all that (and much more) for over a year. 

    Looks like sloppy reporting from New Scientist and academic hype from Swansea

    Well, not quite, Jonathan. Mathjournal and xThink differ in the user interface from what UoS has done. The difference is that the user's input is rendered on the fly in the UoS system, whereas with the xThink products, the visual feedback is provided in a separate window *after* the "calculate" button has been pressed.

    I personally prefer the user interface approach of the UoS system, because it gives me continuous feedback as I am going along - not once the calculation has been carried out. It's what I mean about user interfaces "not getting in the way". There's a distinct modal jump with the xThink approach, that I think I personally would find distracting.  

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