May 3, 2010

Using an iPad for LEGO Building Instructions

So I got an Apple iPad recently, and I have seen the future... This a cool device, and it's good at many things. One thing that it is exceptionally good at is viewing LEGO building instructions, because you can have it with you right on the floor with your LEGOs, and it's interactive, connected, color, etc. It beats a laptop or a stack of books easily at this task. So I made a little video demo of using it in various ways for this (viewing web content directly, PDFs, eBooks, etc). This may be the future of education... Check it out.

13 comments:

James Floyd Kelly (Jim) said...

In addition to LEGO BIs, I've downloaded about a dozen apps for my 3 year old - he has quickly figure out how to use all of them. The hardest decision he has to make is which app to run.

But I agree... this little device is very easy to carry around. It might be nice for those of us who have them to talk about standards for creating LEGO BIs for the iPad... format, page/font sizes, etc...

Fay Rhodes said...

Dave,

This video is stunning. Now I just have to figure out how to convert my books to epubs!

James Floyd Kelly (Jim) said...

If the PDF file isn't password protected or have some other DRM protection, I recommend Calibre... I've used it to convert quite a few of my PDFs and it works very well.

http://calibre-ebook.com/

Jim

Fay Rhodes said...

It works well for text, but it balks at all my graphics.

Andy Dannelley said...

Great! I have been using GoodReader and it works well for some PDF's, I will also try CloudReaders (looks great).

I have been considering using my iPad for LEGO instructions since I got it.

Thanks for a great article on iPad with LEGO.

I am looking forward to many technical topics (books) with text and video.

Dave Parker said...

There are a lot of PDF readers for the iPad already, and I only tried a few. CloudReaders renders significantly faster than GoodReader and has more intuitive page turning, but it doesn't support links within the doc (which is why I showed Tora no Maki with GoodReader). Neiher one (nor the reader built into Safari) has a good index view with page thumnails, though. Maybe another one has this or I'm sure someone will add it at some point.

Fay Rhodes said...

Regarding the links not working...Could that be from the iPad's current limitation to using one program at time? If you are reading a PDF document offline, you'd be trying to use a web browser at the same time, no?

Dave Parker said...

The links in Tora no Maki are just PDF links within the document (a somewhat rarely used feature of PDF), so they are not affected by single tasking. One app just didn't bother to implement them.

Matthias Paul Scholz said...

Nice gagdget which comes in quite handy when building a model from an online source.

Yet, as usual (see iPhone or NXT), in Europe it will be much more expensive than in the States: the iPad will most likely be available for around 750 € here - this is twice the U.S. price!!

I can't see any real reason for that (except for Apple exploiting the unawareness of a lot of Europeans about this difference).
Actually, I'm as loath to honor such a blatant price rigging as I have been for the iPhone yet.

James Floyd Kelly (Jim) said...

I agree that pricing differences are horribly out of synch.

But I wonder how much of this is out of Apple's hands? Are there import tariffs, shipping costs, and any other govt fees involved in pulling in a non-native electronics device?

Matthias Paul Scholz said...

Jim,

I can't imagine that shipping costs make a major difference here, as the iPad is built in China anyway.

Yet, I saw that the little (16 GB) version is said to cost around 500€ (not 750) in Germany, which is around 650 $. That is still a much higher price than the one in the USA, even when taken the additional taxes in some states into account.

Still, also 500 € is a lot of money for the 16 GB iPad when one has an unbiased look at the actual capabilities of the gadget, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong: I consider the Apple devices fantastic creations in terms of design, usability and stability. Any soft- and hardware manufacturer can and should learn a lot from them.
However, they are pretty overpriced in my eyes.

Which does not prevent them from being a tremendeous economic success also in Europe, by the way (which is well deserved by Apple, given the creative influence they had on the software industry) - there's been an Apple Hype over here for some time now.

James Floyd Kelly (Jim) said...

Oh, I don't doubt Apple has a reason for the price hike, I just didn't realize it was THAT high of an increase...

I do wonder what their thinking is? Do they think Europeans are more affluent? Do they think Europeans are more willing to pay higher prices for gadgets? Or do they just think they can get away with it because their an American-based company? I'd sure like to know...

Adam Fingret said...

The future of building instructions, sure, but I'm betting the future of Lego NXT and iPad is an app that lets you program and operate the NXT directly from the iPad over bluetooth.

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