Generating ideas via the iPad – can result in new apps

After a little break from the blog a few recent events are causing me to pause and reflect on some of the less well known things I have done in 2012. Earlier in the year I went through a spurt of idea generation on various topics which coincided with getting to grips with my new iPad2. OK was definitely inspired by all the sketching I saw at ScienceOnline2011. In particular I was having some fun with an App called Sketchbook Express (from AutoDesk), which is a drawing app. There is something quite liberating about sitting on your favourite couch, head on arm with a tablet nestled on your lap as you stroke a finger against the screen and draw, type, design something from scratch.

In my case a direct result of this was the Open Drug Discovery Teams app that Alex Clark then built..It all started with a few sketches on the iPad that then were sent to Alex and Antony Williams for feedback. These figures have now become part of the recent ODDT paper published with them and freely available in Molecular Informatics – A big thanks to Gerhard Ecker for providing the outlet for the work.

So this is a great example of how the iPad can actually spawn new apps. Did anyone at Apple imagine such a thing could happen, kind of like a perpetual motion machine!

It is quite a big step to go to the next level and do all the kinds of cheminformatics I do on my laptop (pharmacophores, docking, etc) but we are making some progress which we also discuss in a second paper with Alex and Antony in Molecular Informatics. So watch this space, the iPad may not be reserved for just fun stuff for much longer.

I have also used the sketchbook Express app to draw out slides for presentations and roughly outline a video Alex and I built for the IndieGoGo campaign on ODDT. Some of these drawings made it into a presentation posted on slideshare.

Around the same time I was working on the slides for the ODDT app, I did a couple of slides that summarized the process of collaborative idea generation that could lead to submitted grants, based on a few that were submitted around Dec 2011. Recently one of these slides has been used in another blog by Barry Bunin. The slide is quite generic so could perhaps be useful to other companies thinking about generating ideas for collborative grants or projects and the consequences of this. So if you want to use it feel free but please give me credit!

So what next …would it be too predictable to say ‘hopefully more of the same’?

The ability to generate slides and whole presentations may not be very pretty especially as my handwriting is pretty bad anyway..but its authentically me rather than an insipid powerpoint..I have used Sketchbook Express to draw figures / cartoons that have made their way into grant submissions, so will be keen to see how I can use the iPad more. Watch this space and FigShare & Slideshare.




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  1. Matt Whetton says:

    I’ve used sketchbook on android and windows surface tablets a lot in the past for brainstorming and sketching out things.

    I think they can work really well, but I do find the screen space sometimes feels restrictive.

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