Learning with E-textbooks

November 04, 2014

"All I have learned, I learned from books."

Abraham Lincoln

Books have undoubtedly been the primary sources of knowledge for thousands of years, and institutions of higher education across the globe house vast collections of textbooks, novels, dissertations, and historical documents for the benefit of students and researchers alike. Every year, college students purchase, borrow, and rent a considerable number of textbooks for their classes, and every year these textbooks are updated with new findings presented by leading experts in each field of study. The amount of knowledge that has been obtained and still has yet to be obtained is endless, but what does that mean for the students who must use these extensive resources to further their academic career?

Physical textbooks can be extremely expensive, and the chances of selling back these textbooks at the end of the term for even a fourth of the original price are low. Many students already have to consider their tuition, their living expenses, transportation costs, and countless other factors. Consequently, shouldering the high cost of textbooks can be a major problem. Furthermore, the sheer weight of one term’s worth of textbooks is a burden in itself, considering that college students must tow their books back and forth between classes throughout the day. Finally, the increasing number of newly published books and new editions of established textbooks puts a major strain on the environment.

Despite these disadvantages, paper books have been used for years, primarily because they were the only means by which knowledge could be conveyed through writing. However, the dawn of computer technology revolutionized the way people learn and apply the stores of knowledge that have been accumulated throughout human history. Digital learning, or e-learning, has become a widespread trend amongst schools worldwide and represents an advance in the field of education. For example, ten years ago, students who required specific books for individual research projects or papers had to seek out these materials at the only place within their reach that could provide books on such specialized topics: the library. However, it was not guaranteed that the library would have a particular book; as a result, students would have to wait for the book to be shipped to their library, thus causing a considerable delay in obtaining the information required for classes. In addition, students who could not afford to buy textbooks relied on the library, but with so many students clamoring to borrow the same textbook for the same class, this method presented considerable difficulties.

With e-textbooks, students can obtain all of the learning materials they require immediately through the Internet and for half the cost. Furthermore, e-textbooks can be stored in one device, thus eliminating the burden of dragging a heavy backpack back and forth between classes. E-textbooks also allow students to access resources through convenient devices such as computer tablets and smart phones, and therefore can be used simultaneously with various note-taking apps or file-sharing programs. The creation of electronic styluses has also increased the convenience of using e-textbooks and engaging in e-learning. With so many new tools and learning methods at their disposal, students in today’s society do not have to accept the financial and physical burdens associated with physical textbooks. Thus, they can be free to read countless books and focus solely on the process of learning, applying, and sharing knowledge.

Dear Customer,

We are happy to announce that the USB ID issue that we mentioned in our previous update has been resolved, and we are continuing to move closer to the release of the much anticipated iPen 2.

Currently, we are conducting extensive tests to ensure the quality of the iPen 2. As shown in Fig. 1 below, we have constructed a highly effective fixture that allows us to test the functionality and performance of the iPen 2 battery. In addition, we are using this fixture to measure the charging time of the battery.

Figure 1. Charging fixture

Figure 1. Charging Fixture

We have also developed new software for testing the iPen 2 in different scenarios, such as when the iPen 2 is held in various positions. This innovative software has been combined with a special testing fixture, as shown in Fig. 2 below, to enhance the testing capabilities of the software. By using this fixture, we are able to test the pressure sensitivity of the iPen 2 as well as the consistency of the performance between each stylus.

Figure 2. iPen 2 Testing fixture

Figure 2. iPen 2 Testing Fixture

The fixtures shown in these figures will help us to provide you with a high-quality, easy-to-use end product that will satisfy the diverse needs of students, artists, and professionals in various fields.

We are very excited about the continual progress that is being made in the production of the iPen 2, and we look forward to sharing more updates with you as we near the completion of this incredible stylus.

For centuries, schools have used the same materials and methods year after year to teach students, and students have accepted these materials as the norm during their pursuit of knowledge. Textbooks, pen, and paper are the staple of any classroom, and while the methods involving these supplies have been tried and tested, the advent of consumer electronics has revolutionized the manner in which teachers and students work in a classroom setting. One of the most accessible and useful devices that has been developed over the past few decades is the computer tablet. While tablets may not have originally been intended for classroom use, many schools have experimented with the unique method of using these tablets to enhance learning, and have yielded positive results.

In 2010, nearly 80% of students reported that using the iPad enhanced their learning experience, according to a study by Oklahoma State University.

The University of California, Irvine revealed that medical students who used iPads for their schoolwork scored an average of 23% higher on national exams than previous classes, in which iPads were not used.

Furthermore, 81% and 86% of teachers and students, respectively, stated that they believe tablets can enrich classroom learning and facilitate efficient studying.

All of these studies indicate that the use of tablets in the classroom is essential for improving students’ learning experience and academic performance. Among the various ways in which tablets can be applied in an academic setting, tablets can serve as an effective replacement for textbooks. However, replacing physical textbooks with digital textbooks will necessitate the replacement of traditional note-taking tools, such as the pen. Pen and paper are the most basic and necessary materials for studying, and digital note taking must accommodate the use of such materials. The development of styluses has fulfilled this need and ensures that students and teachers will have access to a tool that can be used effectively for the pursuit of academic success.

Professional artists around the world have discovered the unlimited potential of digital painting. Today, concept artists for major productions such as video games and films have adopted digital art techniques and technology to deliver their masterpieces.

Artist and illustrator Sav Scatola has also used digital art apps to create beautiful works of art. His Green Dragon Sketch appears to have been painted using a traditional canvas and paint, but in reality, he has simulated brush strokes and the texture of paint with the help of the ArtRage Pro app.

We had the honor of interviewing Mr. Scatola and he provided an abundance of insightful information on his experience with digital painting:

Q: How would you compare traditional and digital painting? 

Mr. Scatola: The first time I opened Photoshop and saw a brush icon in the toolbox and an empty canvas, I understood that the computer could simply be another tool used to create images. To me they have always been different aspects of the same thing.

Q: Do you believe digital painting has any specific advantages?

Mr. Scatola: Yes. Creating digital art is quicker and more flexible because you can resize, undo, redo and edit your work non destructively.

Q: What features do you think a good stylus possesses (ex. pressure sensitivity)? 

Mr. Scatola: Pressure sensitivity is very much an advantage but not essential. As long as the app you're using supports painting with variable opacity & brush size you can work in almost any style, even without pressure sensitivity. The weight and build quality of a stylus is important but I can't exactly explain why. All I know is that those early iPad styluses - short sticks with fat rubber tips - were actually less useful than my finger! These days styluses are more like conventional pens and pencils which immediately makes them familiar and more comfortable.

Mr. Scatola’s responses clearly indicate that traditional art and digital art are both reputable forms of artistic expression, and that they are essentially two sides of the same coin. Those who have yet to explore the world of digital painting can be assured that it is a worthwhile endeavor, and modern technology developed specifically for artists can help them achieve this goal.

Green Dragon Sketch (ArtRage Pro) by Sav Scatola

Sav Scatola: http://www.boxy.co.uk/

iPen production is progressing as planned and we are currently at the optimization stage.

The stylus design is being refined further and is nearly finalized, after which we can begin testing the completed product. Previously, the assembly of the receiver and frame was one of our primary concerns; however, we were able to apply an effective assembly fixture to improve this process. Presently, we are conducting in-depth analyses on inconsistencies in the performance of the stylus’s electrical components. In addition, we are testing the pressure sensitivity of the stylus to ensure that it exhibits the highest quality performance by the time it is delivered to customers.

We are also in the process of reapplying for Apple’s MFi licensing program to authorize the use of the iPen 2 with Apple products, specifically Apple’s Lightning connector. Although we previously obtained authorization, Apple recently updated their program requirements and we must now obtain a USB ID, provided by the USB Implementers Forum, for the iPen 2 receiver. Therefore, we are utilizing all of our available resources and contacting multiple vendors in order to complete the MFi licensing program.

At this stage, we are making extensive efforts to perfect every aspect of the iPen 2 prior to mass production and shipment, and we are taking the final steps toward completing the various legal processes required for the release of the iPen 2. We thank you for your patience, and we will send out another update once we have resolved the aforementioned issues.

 

“All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind.” 
― Bob Ross

 

Twenty years ago, creating art outdoors would have necessitated the transportation of numerous materials and media. Today, digital painting has broken these physical barriers to provide a more convenient and accessible tool for both professional and amateur artists. The development of the iPad and styluses has further facilitated this new form of artistic expression by reducing the number of required materials.

Some may believe that the development of digital art has caused contemporary artists to abandon the qualities of and classic techniques used in traditional art. However, in reality, digital art has not only preserved numerous aspects of traditional art, but has expanded to enable artists to explore and develop an entirely new form of art. Digital art programs have been increasingly able to replicate the textures and colors achieved using traditional techniques while providing artists with the ability to correct mistakes easily, minimize the necessary materials, and allow art to be created wherever and whenever inspiration strikes.

Thousands of years ago, primitive humans painted on cave walls; centuries ago, at the height of the Renaissance, Michelangelo and Da Vinci were painting on canvases; today, studios such as Disney and Pixar have applied digital painting to create full-length feature films.

We do not know how art will evolve in the future; what we do know is that creation and innovation are the essential tools needed to discover the answer.

We apologize for the delayed update. This delay occurred because additional time is required to analyze the production issues from the previous pilot run. We could not initiate mass production immediately after the pilot run because the following issues caused the yield rate of the pilot run to be less than 50%:

  • The sensor board was tilted as a result of manual soldering and assembly. An additional soldering fixture is needed.
  • An additional stylus charging rack is also needed for thorough battery performance testing.

For the past 3 weeks, we have eliminated several production quality issues such as battery power drainage and unsteady pressure performance. During the pilot run and subsequent mass production stages, each iPen unit must be evaluated based on a list of performance check points. If an iPen fails to pass certain check points, it is deemed a defective unit and then inspected for possible causes.

Several production issues cannot be foreseen until we are in the production phase, primarily because most of the assembly process requires trained operators and the application of specific SOPs. Due to the small scale of our initial production, we do not have the resources to utilize the automatic robotic assembly process. Therefore, we must streamline the SOP and train the operators to use assistive fixtures to increase the production yield rate. We are doing our best to ensure that the production quality meets our standards. In order to begin mass production, we require two additional customized fixtures on the assembly line, and the estimated completion date is October 7.

We are currently working closely with our manufacturing partner to resolve all of these production issues. Additional information from the factory side is required to finalize the mass production date. We will issue another update next week as soon as we gather all of the necessary information.

 

Best,

 

Cregle

The iPen 2 (iPad model) is finally approved by Apple. We will need to do a pilot run next week before mass production to ensure the production quality meets our expectation. We appreciate the feedback from the beta testers. With their help, we find out additional bugs and are able to update the codes applying to the pilot run and mass production.

Mass Production: We expect to begin mass production by early September, and start shipping by middle of September. We will also send you private message to ensure we have your correct address and preferred model.

Supported Apps: The following video shows how iPen 2 works with ibisPaint. After the pilot run, we will send out more samples to potential app partners, and will update the app list during the release date. 

 

Have a great day,

Cregle

The waiting of getting MFi approval takes longer than we expect. As we mentioned previously, we have to revise our product plan due to specs change. The iPen receiver has the micro-usb interface to charge the stylus. And this feature has to be reviewed by Apple’s engineer. We assume our design is a special case that requires Apple’s extra review. However, we don’t know how much longer this will take. If there is any update from Apple, we will let you know.

iMac model – new HD sensor built

The new HD sensor sample for iMac model is ready for testing now. As all our resource has put into the development of iPad model now, we will begin the testing by the middle of July.

iPen 2 vs. ink / Jot Script

Some backers are concerned about the recent competition, and wonder if iPen 2 is any better than the new Jot Touch. Different from any existing active stylus such as Cregle ink or Jot Script/Touch, iPen 2 does not rely on touch screen signal for digital inking. We build iPen 2 for professional painters, and the accuracy is the most important cornerstone. From our testing with Jot Touch (see the following video), you will see its precision is not angle agnostic. The precision is no easy task for making stylus. It takes us 2 years to get this right not without your extreme patience and support.

iPen 2 Features

June 09, 2014

We are still in the MFi checking process because we have to revise one of the requirements in the MFi product plan. In the following, you can see iPen 2 updated features. We appreciate your patience. As soon as we get any results back, we will let you know.

Best,

Cregle