Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Apple iPad Thumbs-Up: Brain Fitness Value, and Limitations

In a pre­vi­ous arti­cle for iPad2Sharp­Brains, I asked whether the Apple tablet (the iPad) would hin­der or sup­port cog­ni­tive fit­ness. Here, I assess the iPad against the cri­te­ria I laid out pre­vi­ous­ly. I then assess its poten­tial for brain fit­ness in gen­er­al. I am rely­ing on Apple’s infor­ma­tion; I have not yet used the iPad.

The iPad has been cov­ered all over the net, and Apple has much infor­ma­tion on its web­site, so I will not repeat that here, except to say that the iPad looks like a 9.7 inch iPod with a mul­ti-touch LED-back­lit IPS screen. It can run all iPod appli­ca­tions and more. It is a rather spec­tac­u­lar, attrac­tive plat­form for doing all of what you can do with an iPod but with com­pelling pos­si­bil­i­ties that a larg­er screen presents. It is also an eBook read­er and an extreme­ly impres­sive gam­ing machine. It is priced very com­pet­i­tive­ly ($500 and up). I imag­ine that many peo­ple will for­go pur­chas­ing an iPod, a game sta­tion, a net­book and an e‑reader and apply their sav­ings to this device.

The iPad itself, and as part of a tech­no­log­i­cal ecosys­tem of prod­ucts that work togeth­er, is some­thing which has major impli­ca­tions for the brain fit­ness mar­ket.

The fol­low­ing table sum­ma­rizes the check-list from my pre­vi­ous arti­cle.

Table 1 iPad Eval­u­a­tion Check-List

Cri­te­ria Assess­ment
Pow­er­ful per­son­al task-man­ag­er Yes (Third-par­ty)
Graph­ic Orga­niz­er Yes (third-par­ty)
Pow­er­ful out­lin­er Yes (third-par­ty)
User-activ­i­ty mon­i­tor No (but with­in reach of Apple)
Inte­grat­ed self-test­ing sys­tem No (third-par­ty can do part of this).
Major Cog­ni­tive Fea­tures
Sys­tem inte­gra­tion and sync­ing Yes (for what is pro­vid­ed, anno­ta­tions not yet sup­port­ed)
Rich anno­ta­tion frame­work No (but it is with­in reach of Apple)
Col­lab­o­ra­tion Some (anno­ta­tions not sup­port­ed)
Mute func­tion (Atten­tion Pro­tec­tion) Close (iPad is atten­tion-friend­ly)
Afford­able, rat­ed con­tent Major pub­lish­ers are on board; book prices cur­rent­ly high; intel­li­gent qual­i­ty rat­ing sys­tem not announced

1. Appli­ca­tions Check­list

Apple has enabled much of whatchecklist is need­ed for the iPad to meet the appli­ca­tion cri­te­ria I laid out. The iPad is not just an e‑reader, it is an appli­ca­tion plat­form for cog­ni­tive pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, brain fit­ness and learn­ing. It will run all exist­ing (140,000 and count­ing) iPod appli­ca­tions. Some of the appli­ca­tions I called for are already on the Apple App Store, though they will require (forth­com­ing) enhance­ments.

I pre­vi­ous­ly not­ed the need for a task man­ag­er, a graph­ic orga­niz­er, an out­lin­er, and a spaced learn­ing sys­tem. These appli­ca­tions will not be pre-installed on the iPad. How­ev­er, many ven­dors have already announced that their Mac OS X cog­ni­tive pro­duc­tiv­i­ty appli­ca­tions (includ­ing graph­ic orga­niz­ers, out­lin­ers and task man­agers) are being port­ed to the iPad. So, we can tick those cri­te­ria off.

Apple has devel­oped specif­i­cal­ly for the iPad inex­pen­sive iWorks pro­duc­tiv­i­ty appli­ca­tions for com­pos­ing doc­u­ments, spread­sheets and pre­sen­ta­tions. This is implic­it sup­port for active learn­ing on the iPad. In addi­tion, Apple’s exist­ing iPod appli­ca­tions are also avail­able for the iPad.

I was puz­zled by the absence of a dic­tio­nary on the iPad home page. Users should not have to research and down­load dic­tio­nar­ies them­selves, par­tic­u­lar­ly since a use­ful dic­tio­nary is avail­able on OS X (its ecosys­tem rel­a­tive).

2. User Mon­i­tor­ing

I expressed the need for a user activ­i­ty mon­i­tor, which was not pro­vid­ed. What I mean here is that the Apple should include oper­at­ing sys­tem, MobileMe and appli­ca­tion sup­port for mon­i­tor­ing and report­ing on how the user is spend­ing their time across the Apple ecosys­tem. This sup­port should secure­ly and con­fig­urably be use­able by third par­ty appli­ca­tions so that they can report activ­i­ty and con­sume sta­tis­tics (sub­ject to pri­va­cy set­tings). This presents many sig­nif­i­cant sci­en­tif­ic, usabil­i­ty and tech­ni­cal chal­lenges; but the func­tion­al­i­ty could be deliv­ered over time in an incre­men­tal, user-friend­ly fash­ion.

Why dwell on this? First, user activ­i­ty mon­i­tor­ing would allow the user to gauge and redi­rect the use of their most pre­cious resource: their brains. The over­abun­dance of infor­ma­tion and activ­i­ties we can per­form on com­put­ers is a major brain chal­lenge. Task switch­ing with com­put­ers is so easy that hard­ware and soft­ware sup­port is required to report on how we are spend­ing our time. Who amongst us pre­cise­ly knows how much time they real­ly spend writ­ing email, read­ing, etc.?

Sec­ond, user activ­i­ty mon­i­tor­ing would pro­vide very inno­v­a­tive sup­port for the brain fit­ness needs expressed at the 2010 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit and in the Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness:

  1. Assess­ment is a key com­po­nent of brain fit­ness.
  2. Inde­pen­dent mea­sures of per­for­mance are required.
  3. Brain fit­ness soft­ware must increas­ing­ly chal­lenge one’s devel­op­ing abil­i­ties.
  4. Brain fit­ness soft­ware needs to keep users moti­vat­ed and engaged.
  5. Some soft­ware should tell us what part of one’s brain one is using.

All those propo­si­tions require sup­port for mon­i­tor­ing the user’s activ­i­ties.

Apple’s user activ­i­ty mon­i­tor could con­ceiv­ably pro­vide chart sum­maries of one’s time on YouTube, mail, safari, the phone, tex­ting, etc., across its entire ecosys­tem (iPad, iPhone, OS X). This could allow one to tell one how much time one spends skim­ming con­tent, active­ly read­ing, writ­ing, draw­ing, etc. One’s read­ing rate could be mea­sured and tracked. The iBooks appli­ca­tion could reflect how much time one has spent inter­act­ing with any giv­en book, chap­ter or page (dit­to for oth­er appli­ca­tions).

Apple pro­vides Activ­i­ty Mon­i­tor for its Macs, but that mere­ly reports com­put­er met­rics. There is more to gain in mea­sur­ing how our cog­ni­tive time is spent than the processor’s time.

A user mon­i­tor­ing tool could pro­vide inde­pen­dent mea­sures of per­for­mance so that we can assess the impact of using brain fit­ness prod­ucts on users. Is the user now goal-set­ting more reg­u­lar­ly with a per­son­al task man­ag­er than before? Is the user skim­ming much con­tent (and con­se­quent­ly not learn­ing much in depth)? This could be relat­ed by third par­ty soft­ware to brain areas: How much time is the user spend­ing lever­ag­ing his or her visu­al cor­tex (using a draw­ing appli­ca­tion, anno­tat­ing images, watch­ing physics demos)? And what part of the user’s audi­to­ry cor­tex is he or she lever­ag­ing (pod­casts vs. music)? Is the user tak­ing notes dur­ing the pod­casts? While read­ing?

Apple prefers sim­plic­i­ty where­as user mon­i­tor­ing is com­plex. How­ev­er, Apple has been known to deliv­er sophis­ti­cat­ed inno­va­tion, e.g., with iPhoto’s face recog­ni­tion. Ulti­mate­ly, Apple could lever­age embed­ded cam­eras for eye track­ing (to detect when one is read­ing vs. away from the com­put­er), var­i­ous iPad sen­sors, its oper­at­ing sys­tems, MobileMe or sync ser­vices to inte­grate and report user activ­i­ty data. This would open huge doors to brain fit­ness soft­ware ven­dors. Only a com­pa­ny like Apple, which con­trols a large part of the ecosys­tem, can deliv­er a com­pre­hen­sive user-activ­i­ty mon­i­tor­ing solu­tion.

3. Rich Anno­ta­tion Frame­work

I not­ed pre­vi­ous­ly that active learn­ing on a tablet requires a rich anno­ta­tion sys­tem. This would, for exam­ple, allow users to high­light resources, attach notes to them, and browse their anno­ta­tions. Apple has not yet demon­strat­ed anno­ta­tion for the iPad. Grant­ed, anno­ta­tion is a dif­fi­cult nut to crack. It is unfor­tu­nate that many years after the advent of the web, users still do not have a stan­dard way to mark up what they read. Anno­ta­tion capa­bil­i­ties would great­ly facil­i­tate active read­ing on the iPad and Macs. There­fore, I will describe anno­ta­tion require­ments in more detail so that indus­try and con­sumers alike real­ize what is need­ed for the iPad, com­put­ers and e‑book read­ers to become more cog­ni­tive­ly use­ful devices.

A large num­ber of anno­ta­tion prod­ucts have been intro­duced in the past (I have led the devel­op­ment of three large ones myself.) Yet anno­ta­tion can­not be ade­quate­ly sup­port­ed on a piece­meal, appli­ca­tion-by-appli­ca­tion basis. Anno­ta­tion ulti­mate­ly requires oper­at­ing sys­tem and ecosys­tem ser­vices. Briefly, this is the crux of what is need­ed:

  • a set of cross-device, oper­at­ing sys­tem ser­vices and appli­ca­tion ser­vices that allow users to eas­i­ly index (link) and anno­tate arbi­trary, fine-grained resources with a con­sis­tent, sim­ple, yet pow­er­ful user-inter­face involv­ing high­light­ing, rich text edit­ing, tag­ging, draw­ing, doo­dling, voice record­ing, etc.
  • All types of resources need to be anno­tat­able (web pages, e‑books, Mail, pho­tos, PDFs, images, videos, files, third-par­ty resources, etc)
  • an anno­ta­tion brows­er that allows users to review their anno­ta­tions and quick­ly access the spe­cif­ic con­tent that they have anno­tat­ed (e.g., as they review for an exam, pre­pare a pre­sen­ta­tion, or write a doc­u­ment).
  • IP sync­ing of user anno­ta­tions to a web ser­vice (e.g., MobileMe) so that users can access their anno­ta­tions and their anno­tat­ed con­tent on mul­ti­ple devices.

Apple is a very con­trolled com­pa­ny, so I imag­ine that if they have not yet pro­vid­ed anno­ta­tion sup­port in its ecosys­tem, it is because they are still work­ing on the prob­lem and want to tack­le it in a com­pre­hen­sive and user-friend­ly man­ner. That is accept­able. How­ev­er, this being 2010, it is now time for Apple to begin to pro­vide more ade­quate sup­port for active learn­ing. I find it dif­fi­cult to imag­ine how any e‑reader com­peti­tor can defeat Apple if Apple were to deliv­er a prop­er anno­ta­tion solu­tion. Apple is unique­ly posi­tioned to deliv­er on this, because Apple con­trols the entire ecosys­tem and is usabil­i­ty-ori­ent­ed. Apple could deliv­er the func­tion­al­i­ty in a series of soft­ware updates. Not all anno­ta­tion fea­tures need to be avail­able on the iPad itself, some are more suit­able to Macs.

Until anno­ta­tion func­tion­al­i­ty is pro­vid­ed, much of the poten­tial of tech­nol­o­gy to sup­port active-learn­ing will remain untapped.

4. Sync­ing Ser­vices and Col­lab­o­ra­tion

Apple seems to have deliv­ered some of the major cri­te­ria I men­tioned regard­ing sync­ing both pur­chased and user-cre­at­ed iPad con­tent, across the ecosys­tem. Pur­chased books, and user-con­tent will be synced through the new iBooks appli­ca­tion (same con­cept as iTunes, but for books). My ecosys­tem cri­te­ri­on requires that the iBooks appli­ca­tion be avail­able on OS X so that one can read the same book on mul­ti­ple plat­forms (as one can lis­ten to music on a Mac or an iPod). This will be some­thing to watch out for.

One of the poten­tial­ly col­lab­o­ra­tive fea­tures for the iPad is the pro­vi­sion of WIFI shared fold­ers. Also, the iPod has many col­lab­o­ra­tive fea­tures and appli­ca­tions which will trans­late to the iPad. And we can look to third par­ty ven­dors to inno­vate here.

5. Mute Func­tion (Atten­tion Fil­ter)

I called for an eas­i­ly acces­si­ble mute func­tion for the iPad. It is not yet pro­vid­ed by Apple but the device does have a relat­ed design fea­ture, and they do have the tech­nol­o­gy to deliv­er what is need­ed. The ratio­nale for the mute func­tion is that per­form­ing cog­ni­tive­ly demand­ing tasks, such as active learn­ing and prob­lem solv­ing, involves exec­u­tive brain mech­a­nisms whose per­for­mance degrades sig­nif­i­cant­ly when they are inter­rupt­ed. As John Med­i­na argued in Brain Rules (pp. 84–88), it is a myth that humans are good at mul­ti-task­ing. Being bom­bard­ed with noti­fi­ca­tions from email, instant mes­sag­ing, iPhone calls, text mes­sages, Skype/iChat invi­ta­tions, adver­tise­ments, lyri­cal music, etc., inter­feres with pro­duc­tive think­ing and read­ing due to the archi­tec­ture of the brain and mind. In this respect, con­trary to pop­u­lar crit­i­cism, the iPad’s appar­ent lack of mul­ti-task­ing may be a very sig­nif­i­cant cog­ni­tive advan­tage.

Apple holds a ven­er­a­ble posi­tion with respect to the poten­tial for automat­ing atten­tion fil­ter­ing. Because Apple pro­vides an ecosys­tem of prod­ucts and ser­vices, it could actu­al­ly pro­vide an ecosys­tem-wide mute func­tion. This would allow the user to send a sig­nal to glob­al­ly sup­press all but the most urgent inter­rupts. This atten­tion fil­ter could pro­vide an unin­ter­rupt­ed block of pro­duc­tive learn­ing, think­ing, etc. Some par­ents might see val­ue in their chil­dren being seduced by a won­drous gad­get that actu­al­ly encour­ages undis­turbed, active read­ing. Parental con­trols might even allow par­ents to press the glob­al mute but­ton them­selves dur­ing their kids’ (or their own!) home­work time.

6. Afford­abil­i­ty and Rat­ing of Con­tent

The avail­abil­i­ty and per­co­la­tion of qual­i­ty con­tent is a major unher­ald­ed fac­tor for brain fit­ness.

Abun­dance of con­tent will be a strong point for iPad. Major pub­lish­ers are on board. Oth­ers will need to fol­low to remain com­pet­i­tive. The entire Ama­zon offer­ing will be avail­able with the Kin­dle appli­ca­tion (which seems to remove the need to pur­chase a Kin­dle). Also, the iBooks appli­ca­tion allows con­tent to be down­loaded very intu­itive­ly.

Pric­ing will need to evolve with mar­ket pres­sures that are not in Apple’s con­trol. E‑book prices ought to be a much small­er frac­tion of a phys­i­cal book than Apple has men­tioned so far. I sus­pect the solu­tion to this lies in the upcom­ing emer­gence of a new breed of pub­lish­ers who will bet on Apple’s iBooks Store. These new, savvy pub­lish­ers will need to com­pete by pro­vid­ing high qual­i­ty con­tent at low prices. The largest pub­lish­er of books 5 years from now might be a com­pa­ny that is as unknown to most of us today as eBay or Google ini­tial­ly was.

When con­sid­er­ing the cost of pur­chas­ing books for an iPad, we need to con­sid­er the sur­pris­ing­ly low-cost of the iPad and how much val­ue it pro­vides to users. The iPad is a con­ver­gence device. This sin­gle fact will allow many cus­tomers to for­go the pur­chase of either a net­book, a gam­ing sta­tion, a portable video play­er, an iPod or oth­er MP3 play­er. Also, the soft­ware on the App store tends to be afford­able and is abun­dant. It will also give par­ents an addi­tion­al option to pro­vide a com­put­er to their fam­i­lies.

Final­ly, there is the issue of intel­li­gent rat­ing and per­co­la­tion of qual­i­ty e‑books. Brain fit­ness requires that we read the best con­tent and not be dis­tract­ed by the rest. Ide­al­ly, we should spend time read­ing pow­er­ful ideas that “stretch” our minds. Cur­rent rat­ing sys­tems are not up to this chal­lenge; this is an area for inno­va­tion. An intel­li­gent con­tent rat­ing sys­tem would reflect rel­e­vance, orig­i­nal­i­ty, dif­fi­cul­ty, com­plex­i­ty, anno­ta­tion den­si­ty and coher­ence of con­tent, along with oth­er data includ­ing the user’s pro­file. Such a sys­tem could lever­age (future) mon­i­tor­ing and anno­ta­tion data (depend­ing on pri­va­cy set­tings).

In sum, it looks like there will be an abun­dance of con­tent, though pric­ing and rat­ing sys­tems are to be deter­mined.

7. iPad vs. Paper

To deter­mine how the iPad will com­pare with paper will require usabil­i­ty stud­ies. Hav­ing care­ful­ly ana­lyzed Apple’s iPad keynote address and worked on pro­duc­tive e‑reading solu­tions for sev­er­al years, the iPad seems very impres­sive to me, even at a dis­tance.

  • The form fac­tor and phys­i­cal han­dling seem right.
  • The mul­ti-touch tech­nol­o­gy has over 1,000 sen­sors; it seems very respon­sive.
  • It uses a pre­mi­um in-plane switch­ing liq­uid crys­tal dis­play for view­ing from mul­ti­ple angles, which is impor­tant for com­fort.
  • Con­tent nav­i­ga­tion is my major con­cern with e‑readers. iPad and iBooks have some very impres­sive tricks to match and improve on paper. The tac­tile flip­ping of pages seems very intu­itive. Nav­i­ga­tion to and with the table of con­tents is effi­cient. There is a sub­tle but cru­cial nav­i­ga­tion bar at the bot­tom of the page which reflects one’s place in the book and allows one to nav­i­gate quick­ly to a par­tic­u­lar page. There are oth­er (fade-out) nav­i­ga­tion con­trols.
  • The iPad’s anno­ta­tion sys­tem is lack­ing (though there seems to be book­mark­ing), but this is with­in Apple’s grasp with a soft­ware update.

Reader’s whose eyes can­not han­dle LCD may need to use an alter­na­tive to this inte­grat­ed envi­ron­ment with e‑pub for­mat­ted books that sup­port video, ani­ma­tion and so much more.

8. Lack of Adobe Flash: Impli­ca­tions for Brain Games

Adobe Flash is soft­ware made by Adobe that allows users to play videos and run pro­grams with­in most of their web browsers. Apple refus­es to allow Adobe Flash to be installed on iPad, iPods or the iPhone.

This presents a chal­lenge for many brain fit­ness web sites, because they tend to imple­ment their soft­ware using Flash. Should the indus­try be clam­or­ing for Apple to sup­port Flash? I per­son­al­ly think not, but this is per­haps the source of most frus­tra­tion with the iPad. It is a suf­fi­cient­ly impor­tant and com­plex issue for me to elab­o­rate on.

Apple’s exclu­sion of Flash is not a mat­ter of com­mer­cial rival­ry. (Cred­its to Steve Leach for elu­ci­dat­ing some of the fol­low­ing rea­sons behind Apple’s posi­tion.) In sum, Flash has been plagued by seri­ous secu­ri­ty, sta­bil­i­ty, per­for­mance and oth­er prob­lems. Here is how that relates to brain fit­ness:

  • Secu­ri­ty. If the iPad is to be a major brain fit­ness plat­form on which sen­si­tive user and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty data will be stored (e.g., one’s neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal pro­file, one’s IQ rat­ings, etc.), then the absence of some major secu­ri­ty vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in an era of increas­ing mal­ware may be advan­ta­geous.
  • Sta­bil­i­ty and per­for­mance. A tablet that slows down, los­es bat­tery pow­er too fast, or crash­es while one is try­ing to work is not always as use­ful as one that does not.
  • Speed of inno­va­tion. Apple’s not hav­ing to con­tend with third-par­ty ven­dors of vir­tu­al machines like Flash and Java means that it can more quick­ly inno­vate and resolve prob­lems with few­er risks. The brain fit­ness mar­ket, which is lead­ing-edge, stands to ben­e­fit from this speed.
  • Flash is a major vec­tor for pornog­ra­phy (though there are oth­er means).
  • Apple and Google sup­port HTML 5 includ­ing open stan­dard alter­na­tives to Flash videos (but not run­ning arbi­trary appli­ca­tions).

The iPad offers a large num­ber of very inter­est­ing hard­ware and soft­ware fea­tures that can­not be lever­aged in a brows­er via Flash (e.g., accelerom­e­ter, dig­i­tal com­pass, mul­ti-touch dis­play, and a cam­era enclo­sure for future devel­op­ment). Hence, more sophis­ti­cat­ed brain fit­ness appli­ca­tions ought to be writ­ten direct­ly for the iPad. An alter­na­tive for brain fit­ness com­pa­nies that do not want to write a native iPad or OS X appli­ca­tion is to part­ner with thin-client gam­ing com­pa­nies such as

I encour­age read­ers to have a very care­ful look at the Apple iPad keynote presentation’s sec­tion on the app store (and gam­ing), which starts 29 min­utes 48 sec­onds into that video. The iPad seems to be a sur­pris­ing­ly pow­er­ful gam­ing plat­form that will attract many chil­dren and young adults, giv­en its com­pelling val­ue propo­si­tion (not to men­tion the Apple brand itself).

Cus­tomers who pre­fer the advan­tages and cur­rent ubiq­ui­ty of Flash will vote with their dol­lars and have recourse to devices run­ning Google and Microsoft oper­at­ing sys­tems.

Con­clud­ing Remarks

The iPad seems poised to be thumbsupa com­mer­cial suc­cess. It ful­fills many of the require­ments that it sets out to ful­fill. And it meets many of the require­ments that I called for in my arti­cle. And what it doesn’t do it can poten­tial­ly do with updates. The iPad rep­re­sents a com­pelling new class of con­ver­gence devices. It has a pow­er­ful soft­ware devel­op­ment kit that will be very attrac­tive to devel­op­ers of brain fit­ness appli­ca­tions. The Mac oper­at­ing sys­tem (on which iPad appli­ca­tions are writ­ten) is a ver­sa­tile and increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar soft­ware devel­op­ment plat­form. So at a min­i­mum, the iPad is a plat­form which the brain fit­ness mar­ket will need to pre­pare for.

LucPBeaudoin-225x300Dr. Luc P. Beau­doin is Adjunct Pro­fes­sor of Edu­ca­tion at Simon Fras­er Uni­ver­si­ty. He spe­cial­izes in the­o­ret­i­cal and applied cog­ni­tive sci­ence. He has been doing research and devel­op­ment on inte­grat­ed learn­ing envi­ron­ments since 2001. He is also doing research and devel­op­ment in the areas of cog­ni­tive fit­ness and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. He was a first-round employ­ee of two of Canada’s most suc­cess­ful high-tech star­tups. He has also been Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Mil­i­tary Psy­chol­o­gy and Lead­er­ship.

Thanks to Carl Forde, Car­rie Spencer and Stephen K. Leach for review­ing and com­ment­ing on drafts this arti­cle.
Relat­ed arti­cle

Will the Apple Tablet Sup­port or Hin­der Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness?


  • Deb­o­rah But­ler, & Phil Winne. (1995). Feed­back and self-reg­u­lat­ed learn­ing: a the­o­ret­i­cal syn­the­sis. Review of Edu­ca­tion­al Research. 65(3), 245–281.
  • Fer­nan­dez, A., & Gold­bert, E. (2009). The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness. San Fran­cis­co, CA: Sharp­brains.
  • Med­i­na, J. (2008). Brain rules: 12 prin­ci­ples for sur­viv­ing and thriv­ing at work, home and school. Sea­tle, WA: Pear Press.
  • Slo­man, A. (1984). Begin­ners need pow­er­ful sys­tems. In New Hori­zons in Edu­ca­tion­al Com­put­ing (pp. 220–235). Ellis Hor­wood.
  • Wolfe, J. (2002). Anno­ta­tion tech­nolo­gies: A soft­ware and research review. Com­put­ers and Com­po­si­tion, 19(4), 471–497.
  • Wolfe, J. L., & Neuwirth, C. M. (2001). From the Mar­gins to the Cen­ter: The Future of Anno­ta­tion. Jour­nal of Busi­ness and Tech­ni­cal Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, 15(3), 333–371. doi:10.1177/105065190101500304

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4 Responses

  1. The abil­i­ty for the iPad to run exist­ing iPhone appli­ca­tions and to facil­i­tate new appli­ca­tions seems very impor­tant to its suc­cess in gen­er­al and as a brain fit­ness plat­form in par­tic­u­lar. Users who con­vert to the iPad as a pri­ma­ry com­put­er inter­face will want their brain train­ing appli­ca­tions avail­able on the device (or on-line through the device).

    The iPad becomes anoth­er plat­form for brain train­ing soft­ware pub­lish­ers to sup­port. Some pro­duce Mac ver­sions of their soft­ware while some don’t or take a while to get there. The same is dou­bly true for the iPhone and now the iPad. We should also remem­ber that cus­tomers expect iPhone apps to be less expen­sive. Will these con­di­tions put pres­sure on the pub­lish­ers of more expen­sive brain train­ing soft­ware to reduce their prices?

    At MindSparke we began with PC soft­ware but released Mac and iPhone ver­sions with­in a year. We’re already work­ing on an expand­ed app for the iPad. Plat­form inde­pen­dence is a chal­leng­ing com­mit­ment, and one that may be crit­i­cal to the mat­ter of which brain train­ing com­pa­nies adapt and sur­vive.

  2. I def­i­nite­ly agree that touch screen tablets are ide­al for brain train­ing activ­i­ty. At Hap­pyneu­ron, we have been expe­ri­enc­ing brain fit­ness with touch screens in retire­ment homes for 5 years in Europe with very pos­i­tive results.
    Even elder­ly peo­ple above 100 years, who nev­er used com­put­ers, suc­ceed in using our soft­ware thanks to these nat­ur­al inter­faces.
    About the con­flict between Apple and Adobe, I think the rea­sons for not sup­port­ing Flash con­tents are more strate­gic than tech­ni­cal. See Kevin Lynch answer to Steve Jobs for instance:
    Final­ly don’t for­get that with the mas­sive mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of com­pet­i­tive tablets (using Android, Win­dows 7, etc.) we will have plen­ty of touch devices which will sup­port Flash Play­er 10.1
    So, not sure how long Apple will con­tin­ue to exclude Flash from its ipad.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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