I have been well aware that my perspective as a business application developer is limiting when I think of what can be done with ink on the tablets. This is evidenced in this quote from the ITWorld article a few weeks ago:
Lerman sees forms on Tablet PCs as the greatest opportunity. "Being able to walk around with the tablet as though it was a clipboard and writing is huge," she said.
I am basically looking at ink right now as replacing what I am already doing with a mouse or on the keyboard and I am definitely eager to get my head out of that box. The Microsoft Research keynote at PDC really opened my eyes. But now I have my hands on an existing application that helps me start to think out of the box. It's xThink's Calculator program. This thing is so cool that I now wish I had some math problems to solve! And I have to say I am truly limited in my ability to play with this because of the fact that I have forgotten so many of those skills that were drummed into me in math, chemistry and phsyics classes during high school and college. I can't even begin to imagine what a program like this means to people who use math every day!
Better than anything I could do is the example on the home page of xThink's site which I will just point to right here:
There are two things going on on this screen. xThink has an annotation mode (red ink) and a math mode (black ink). So this screen shows that the user is scribbling notes and then has done a few calculations. You can put multiple calculations on one screen. From my experiments, I am guessing that the application differentiates the separate calcs by encapsulating the most recent set of math mode strokes and grouping them together with the result. Once you hit the “calculate it” button and it renders the results, then you can start writing a new calculation after that. Plus this screen is only showing you multiplication and addition. Not does it recognize the standard math signs (like square roots, exponents, etc) but there is a host of built in functions that I recall from my younger days like SIN, COS). So in my everyday life, I don't really use any of this stuff, but I can imagine that it's got to be a big PIA to try to do this stuff on a keyboard. And seeing this helps me to expand my horizons of what I might want to do with ink that's not something I would do or do so easily on keyboard.