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iPods as scientific tools (app-creation challenge) Answered

I can't help noticing that there are a lot of kids with iPods at my new school.

I have a half-warmed idea that this is an under-exploited resource - these things are packed with sensors that most schools cannot afford to buy for themselves.

Does anybody know of any apps that can be used to easily access this data in a form useful for students? 

For instance: the iPod replaces the bob in a pendulum and records the time it takes to swing, and the forces acting at each moment of the swing, then displays the data in a graph on the iPod, or uses the wifi link to email the document in a form that can be used by an Excel spreadsheet.

And not just acceleration and time, but sound and light (isn't there an ambient brightness detector in there somewhere?).


Any recommendations?


Kitewife bought me an iPod Touch for Christmas!  I have so far installed the following apps that use the on-board sensors;
  • SPARKvue (accelerometer display),
  • Signal Gen (an audible signal generator),
  • SoundLevel (a free decibel meter / sound oscilloscope)
  • FreqCounter (displays a continuous full-screen oscilloscope display
  • Decibel 10 (analogue & digital sound level meter, which will email data for you)
  • SpiritLevel & iTools (for measuring angles and levels by moving the iPod)
  • Protractor (lays a protractor over the view through the camera, allowing you to measure "real" angles you can't reach (say, of a roof-line, or between branches of a tree).
What I cannot find (yet) is a decent app that gives a class-room-useful read-out of light levels - they don't tell you the light-level, they tell you what f-stop to use on your camera.

The next job is to find ways to use them in lessons, or as homework tasks.

Question: Is anybody reading this able to actually create their own iPod Touch apps?  The apps I've downloaded so far are fine, as far as they go, but they really need a better way of getting the data out in a form that can be manipulated (eg by spreadsheets).


Last year I had an assignment in which we were given a .csv file of iPhone accelerometer data over a train journey. We had to use MATLAB to produce a graph of the average acceleration of the train. There's a fair bit of calibration and noise removal that needs to be done to get a nice result out of it from the raw data, but it's definitely possible.

The .csv file that it spits out though can easily be manipulated by Excel. I've just dug out the task sheet for it and it says the data was gathered using an app called "Accelerometer Data Pro", so that might be worth a look.

I've downloaded an app that does something similar - "SPARKvue".

ipod applications used as scientfic tool is real and usual but please gve some techniques of using them .

That what *I* want to know - what apps do people use, and how?

Update bump.

iPod Touch Fourth Generation features a three axis gyroscope while previous models only have a two axis version. Both have an accelerometer, though there is no app (available through Apple) that can record these over a period of time.

I'd recommend somebody attempting a jailbreak and trolling through Cydia to see if they have something.

Does anyone know exactly what sensors each model of iPod touch and iPhone has? The current iPhone has GPS capabilities which the Touch certainly doesn't have, but what other differences are there?

I've found one! It's intended to link to external sensors, but will also access the internal accelerometers:


Whether that's even possible in hypothetical land depends on the generation and model of the iPod. Some have accelerometers, video cameras, etc - some don't. The shuffle would be useless, for example.

Displaying the data in graph form sounds feasible - there's a similar feature on many iPods that records number of steps/distance traveled and displays the data as a graph, in a chart, etc. Automatically emailing it in excel format over wifi seems like a stretch, but I guess it could work.

You may also encounter resistance to such physical commandeering of valued devices; mine has both a video camera and an accelerometer, but I sure as heck would not swing it around on a string for class!

I was mainly thinking iPod Touch, but the experiment doesn't have to be so extreme - you could keep it in your pocket and record the forces and sound-levels of a roller-coaster ride or a drive to the shops.

I have a Nokia N900 I bought it BECAUSE it has so many sensors and an OPEN SOURCE (Linux based) Operating System. There are applications that will do exactly that and plot the results on a graph. So you could see how the patrons screams of pleasure might correlate to the G-Forces. I'm not sure how or even IF you can access the iProduct sensors in the same way.

That's really the key, I think - not hardware, the hardware is there, but the stupid locked-down nature of the software running on it.

That is a good idea. I'm quite surprised that no-one's really thought of this before.

It seems perfectly plausible. I already use mine as a periodic table. Also, attachments could be made to the main port, like the ph sensor in this instructble: https://www.instructables.com/id/Pee-to-Check-In-to-Foursquare-Mark-Your-Territor/?ALLSTEPS

There is a version of  iProcessing, which might be a good place to start. This is an awesome idea.