Machine Design

iPhone Apps for Engineers

The JouleBug app aims to help people use energy wisely in their everyday life.  Open the app and the top of the screen shows a lineup of icons, each of which has an energy-related theme. Swipe the screen to the icon of interest. For example, tapping an icon showing a compact fluorescent light (CFL) brings up a Light Saver window. Tap the Earn the Badge button, and a new window shows a picture of a CFL and an incandescent bulb with the phrase “do a switcheroo?” Tapping the screen shows a cartoon guy comparing the two forms of energy usage in a thought cloud above his head. In the thought cloud a graph illustrates that CFLs save lots of energy. The cartoon guy makes the switch. Keep tapping the screens — each of which tells a story about the guy going to the store, buying a CFL, and screwing in his new CFL. The last screen has an “I Did It” badge, which awards 10 points. Other badges encourage you to recycle, turn off your computer, and join the JouleBug forum. The app is intended as a kind of game. The idea is that everyone trying to garner points will all add up to a lot of energy never generated.

Unit and Hardness Converter
Open the Unit and Hardness Converter app from Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, Fort Wayne, Ind., and select from Converter or Hardness at the bottom of the window. Tap the arrow to move to the unit of interest, for example, Area, Current, Energy, Data, or Dynamic viscosity. Tapping Data, for instance, brings up a screen that lets you switch between Bits, Bytes, and Terabytes. Just tap the numbers to enter the units of interest. Turns out that 45 GB (Gigabyte) = 360 Gbit (Gigabit). Tapping the Hardness button at the bottom of the screen lets you convert Rockwell, Vickers, and Brinell hardnesses. Tapping Videos lists various YouTube videos you can watch about the company’s products, including sealing products. A Contact button lets you send an e-mail to the company or visit its Web site.

The Trimensional app from Grant Schindler, research scientist in Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, is basically a 3D scanner that works on the iPhone 4. The software uses both the screen and the front-facing camera on your device, detecting patterns of light reflected off your face to build a true 3D model. An in-app purchase lets you export any scan as an OBJ, STL, or PLY file via e-mail. (OBJ: texture-mapped polygonal model compatible with most 3D software packages; STL: watertight geometry suitable for 3D printing; PLY: point cloud with position (X, Y, Z) and RGB color information per vertex.) The app also lets you create and share videos and animated GIFs of your 3D scans.

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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