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iPad as a touchscreen interface for your computer

Yesterday, I did something really wild. My usual computer setup is my laptop with a larger external monitor as a second screen. Yesterday, I added a third monitor to my setup: my iPad. I dragged some application windows onto each of the three monitors. Whoa. I also set them up to mirror each other. Then I controlled my computer by tapping and dragging directly on the screen of the iPad. It was seriously mind-blowing.

The magic is enabled by a $10 app called AirDisplay that runs on the iPad, along with its free desktop companion that runs on the Mac (or PC). I found out about it from a post on Practical Practice, a blog by Tim Tyson, where you’ll find very clear and detailed instructions for setting this up yourself if you want to. Essentially, the app on your iPad talks to the application on your computer, provided both machines are on the same wifi network (or a private network that originates from the computer). You can use a projector instead of an external monitor to turn your iPad into an interactive whiteboard, and you can connect several iPads and use them in turn, like in a classroom setting.

So far, I’ve only experimented enough to have first impressions: I used SketchbookPro instead of trying Ink2Go as Dr. Tyson recommends, and I found it a little difficult but promising. I used the wifi hookup and haven’t yet tried the private network. I’d like to try that, and maybe Ink2Go, and I’d like to test it over WebEx to see how it might look in a virtual meeting setting. (Any volunteers to attend and give me some feedback?) If it’s workable, it means that you could visually record a web meeting even without owning a graphics tablet, if you have an iPad. And no wires!

More on this later, after more experimentation. Meanwhile, take a look at Dr. Tyson’s post for more details on how he did it and what he used it for.

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