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Graphing Calculator Mobile App Development - [x]cube LABS

Taking a major leap towards technology in order to improve student understanding and achievement in mathematics, TI approached [x]cubeLABS to create a mobile app. The result was the award-winning TI-NspireTM apps.

 

 

From handheld devices to a mobile app!

Taking a major leap towards technology in order to improve student understanding and achievement in mathematics, TI approached [x]cubeLABS to create a mobile app. The result was the award-winning TI-NspireTM apps.

Here's how our digital transformation strategy helped TI reinvent its product line.

BACKGROUND

Texas Instruments (TI) is the world's third largest manufacturer of semiconductors, the second largest supplier of chips for cellular handsets and the largest producer of digital signal processors (DSPs) and analog semiconductors. But if there's one thing that sets the company apart, it's their contribution to the field of education and technology with their amazing range of products manufactured under Education Technology, a business of Texas Instruments.

Users of TI calculators, teachers and students especially, have been using handheld devices and desktop software for a very long time. Their wide range of scientific and graphing calculators help educators to employ interactive and effective teaching-learning methods in the classrooms, thereby connecting the "classroom experience with real-world applications".

When the leader in the space of education technology wanted to expand geographically by leveraging the mobile space and introducing new-age products that appeal to the current generation, there was nothing to stop them. [x]cubeLABS stepped in here to help them look at some of the ways the company can expand faster across geographic regions. TI had two main aims & their brief was very clear - to port its existing features of scientific calculators onto tablets for both iOS and Android platforms, and to include new features such as dropbox and iCloud integration.

Mobile Calculator Application Development - [x]cube LABS

THE OBJECTIVE

TI is a global leader in manufacturing calculators for school children. However, even if the company gets a bulk order of 200,000 to 300,000 calculators to be delivered beginning June, they can't capitalize on it as it's almost impossible to physically supply so many calculators because of restraints in terms of inventory management, supply-chain which takes a lot of time.

On the other hand, one can digitize it and make it an iPad based calculator and leverage the resources and can provide any number of calculators to students. The profit margins are going to be the same - whether it is physical calculators or digital ones that are supplied. The other added advantage is that the mobile app can be expanded to include other related projects or areas like classroom scheduling, course management, etc., which isn't possible in the hardware business.

With that objective in mind, we brainstormed to come up with a suitable strategy for them and spent a couple of months drafting some aspects of the calculators that can be ported on to the digitized calculators.

The outcome was TI-Nspire - an iPad application for Texas Instruments, the world's most preferred brand for graphing calculators. They optimized their complex calculations for the tablets which can be used by teachers and students for a more engaging and fun class.

KEY FEATURES

  • Provides comprehensive graphing, data entry and analysis, statistical modeling and calculating functionality.
  • Easy to import images from the iPad camera or photo library and overlaying graphs and equations on them to illustrate abstract Math principles in the real world.
  • Visualize crucial connections by observing how equations change - in real time, on one screen - when you touch, grab and interact with shapes, graphs and objects on the screen.
  • Gain greater understanding by exploring hundreds of free activities for Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, Calculus and Statistics, etc.
TI-Nspire Calculator iPad App Development - [x]cube LABS

CHALLENGES

One of the major challenges while building the TI calculators was non-availability of scientific notation keys, required in graphing calculators, in iOS devices.

Implementing the calculation logic that were built for the physical device using C libraries into the app using C libraries was also a serious challenge which our team confronted with. TI had this set of C Libraries, created 20 years ago, which had all the logic for the calculations implemented in the app. However, the libraries were not compatible to be used directly to iOS platforms.

Localization of the app posed the next challenge, as it was developed in 8 different languages including couple of Chinese languages, which required significant efforts from our engineering team.

SOLUTION

The calculator required scientific notation keys which were not available in the Apple devices. We created a custom keyboard with both regular iOS keys and scientific keys required for graphing calculators. To solve the C libraries puzzle, our team made use of wrapper classes to implement the calculation logics in the iOS platform. To bring localization into the app, we made use of support available on iOS platforms for multiple languages in addition to customizing user interface.

With a large team working across geographies- India, US and Mexico, it required superior project management expertise to collaborate and ensure timely and successful delivery of the project.

RESULT

The iPad app helped Texas Instruments reach out to a new mobile armed audience and carve a niche for itself in the emerging market. It was well- received by its target audience and was a popular choice for a long-time in the app stores.

Thanks to the entire gamut of specifications that [x]cube provided, the app became a huge success and won an innovation award too while TI enjoyed good ROI in a short span.

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