This month has seen the launch of techBASIC, a programming tool that allows users to collect, manipulate, and display numerical data collected using the iPhone and iPad's internal sensors. Running under iOS 5, techBASIC gathers data from sensors including the iPad's internal accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and "location and heading" functions. The software then displays the results in the form of images that can a user can twist, pan, zoom into, and manipulate.
This tool is designed for users looking for a somewhat quirky and relatively simple means of displaying data. Built-in graphing and matrix commands are used to create a plot with only a few lines of code. After the program finishes running, the plots are still dynamic and a user can pan and zoom plots or rotate 3D plots along an arbitrary axis. Users can choose from two- or three-dimensional Cartesian axes, or polar, spherical, or cylindrical axes.
The heart of techBASIC is an implementation of the BASIC programming language, complete with advanced matrix commands. A user can multiply or add matrices the same way most languages multiply or add numbers. There is also the option to use advanced functions like INV, which returns the inverse of a matrix. A user can write their own programs and read and manipulate the contents of existing data files. Logically then, this software provides the option to use iTunes to move programs and data back and forth between iPad or iPhone and a desktop computer.
The software's maker Byte Works further explains, "If you run into a bug while running a BASIC program, drop into techBASIC's step-and-trace debugger to squash that bug. You can view the call stack, variables, and even expand the contents of any variable in a scrollable callout to see the entire variable value — even the contents of a large matrix. Error messages that pop up in your code help pinpoint mistakes — and an online help system gives you all of the details about the language."