The tablet is customized via instructions sent from a master computer that specify the configuration and operation of a displayed array of text buttons. The tablet sends the user’s button selections back to the computer. Communication is wireless (Bluetooth) and instructions and replies are simple text strings. Instructions can be sent from the master computer using any application that can read and write to a serial port, such as Matlab or a simple terminal emulator.
Sponder communicates with the master computer using the Serial Port Profile (SPP) available through Bluetooth. When pairing the computer and tablet through Bluetooth, a virtual serial port on the computer is assigned to handle communication with the device. Multiple tablets can be paired with a computer, with each device assigned a separate serial port. A Bluetooth controller on the master computer can maintain simultaneous connections with up to seven devices through separate virtual serial ports.
The tablet’s screen is divided into three areas: (1) the text area at the top of the screen, which can be used to display arbitrary text such as instructions or questions; (2) the configurable button area below the text area; and (3) the OK button to the right of the text area to finalize a selection of buttons.
After OK is pressed, feedback may optionally be given on the selected button:
Users may not always want to use an OK button. With no OK button the first selection will immediately be submitted as the response.
These examples show a button configuration with different numbers and sizes of buttons in different columns.
- Android 4.1 or higher.
- Bluetooth with support for the Serial Port Profile (SPP). NOTE: Not all tablet manufacturers and models support this profile.
- Recommended tablet: Nexus 7
- PC: Windows 7 or Windows 8.
- Apple: Mac OS 10.8.5. Earlier OS versions may work but have not been tested.
Bluetooth with support for the Serial Port Profile (SPP). Note that many computers that have built-in Bluetooth do not support SPP. A USB Bluetooth adapter (dongle) can be used to add that capability. The AZiO BTD-V201 is one such dongle that supports the SPP; it has been tested successfully with seven simultaneous connections.
- In addition, the built-in software device driver on your computer may not support the SPP. The Toshiba Bluetooth stack is a driver that does provide that support. The Toshiba driver is supplied with the AZiO dongle and is also available as a free download from the web.
Recommended USB Bluetooth adapter: AZIO BTD-V201
Recommended driver: Toshiba Bluetooth Stack