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Windows 10 Gems: Calculate the smart way with FluidMath

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With Windows 10 Gems!

With support from Microsoft (opens in new tab)

Take a classic graphing calculator and merge it with Windows 10's pen and ink capabilities and you get a math-solving tool for a whole new generation.

FluidMath

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It doesn't matter what your age is — you just might not enjoy math. You might have never been able to get the handle of algebra or grasp calculus, or maybe you love it and it's your favorite thing ever. Regardless of your position on math, if it's something that's a regular part of your life you'll want to take a look at FluidMath. It takes all of the capability of a high-powered graphing calculator, but wrapps up as a Windows 10 app with support for digital inking. It is perhaps the ultimate learning tool for students and demonstration app for teachers.

What can you do with FluidMath and why do you need it if you have a modern two-in-one Windows tablet? I'll tell you in today's Windows 10 Gem!

What it is

FluidMath for PCs running Windows 10 is an inking-enabled math app. It is available for devices like the Surface, Surface Book, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S, and Huawei MateBook. FluidMath lets you ink math formulas onto digital paper, solve linear algebra, and automatically graph those pesky quadratic equations with ease.

The real miracle with FluidMath is how it takes your handwritten math problems and converts them into equations that the app can then solve for you. Going one step further, it will even graph those equations out for you, let you manipulate them and gather more information.

Take a classic TI-83 graphing calculator and merge it with a Surface Pro 4's pen and ink capabilities and you have yourself a math-solving tool for a whole new generation. The company behind FluidMath is Fluidity Software, and they note that their app was "researched, developed, and tested in consultation with teachers over five years with support from NSF, NIH, and US Department of Education" making it more than just a novelty.

Fluidity Software suggests their software is appropriate for pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, pre-Calculus, and Calculus, Likewise, it's not just for students as math or physics teachers can use it as a demonstration tool as well.

Why it's great

For many people, math is full of abstract formulas and data that's hard to visualize. Some of us are just stronger in the verbal game than the math one, including me. Having a tool that lets me use my Surface or MateBook to do math already has sparked my interest and – let's face it – today's generation of students are very computer literate, making them ideal candidates for this app.

FluidMath is also rather simple to use. When you first launch it, you are presented with digital graphing paper. There are two pen functions: one for doing math equations and the other for drawing. The "math pen" is the one that will be converted into text as you write out the formula, while the second is useful for circling, drawing arrows, animations, and more to help highlight an area of interest.

The app has a built-in Help tutorial that will walk you through how FluidMath works and what it can do. FluidMath isn't a catch-all for all things math — it's not ideal for geometry, statistics, or 3D graphing, for example — but is instead better suited for all levels of algebra and calculus.

Fluidity says that it takes about an hour to get acquainted with the handwriting recognition in FluidMath, and I would say that is accurate. Most of this depends on how cleanly you write your numbers so that the auto-conversion process recognizes what you want to represent. It can be tricky, but the accuracy is quite high in my opinion.

Besides the "train yourself to train the app" part there are also gestures and symbols that make the app recognize certain functions. For instance, doing a swoosh like graphing gesture starting at the equals sign in an equation will tell the app to attempt to graph it out. The chart then pops up next to the equation, and the student or teacher can expand it, move it around, show the full table, or draw on it to visually demonstrate the lesson. I found this feature incredibly impressive. There is also a slider function to vary the value of a parameter.

Other expressions include a "double arrow" to approximate numerically the expression (i.e. convert a fraction to decimals), while a single arrow will simplify it (i.e. convert a fraction from 3/9 to 1/3). Doing these gestures and expressions lets you quickly "solve for X" or "solve for a, and b".

FluidMath can also create animations of math expressions, which makes an excellent visual learning aid for students. Likewise, you can "shrink" the text on the page by removing your handwritten formulas and only keeping the converted text. This ability lets you keep more on a single page instead of scrolling to another page.

The eraser function for the Surface Pen, unfortunately, does not work, which is good and bad. This means any Windows and pen combination works with FluidMath, and they've worked to make erasing easy. You can either tap Clear Page (wipes everything) or literally scribble over your mistake like on real paper – the app will then remove that part of the equation so that you can attempt to write the right number or symbol.

FluidMath can create animations of math expressions, which makes an excellent visual learning aid for students.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle with FluidMath is the conversion from handwriting to text so that the app can solve equations for you. I am not that accustomed to writing with a digital pen, let alone doing math, and you need some practice time with the app. This is not a fault of FluidMath — there are just limits on inking to conversion abilities in 2016 that all apps have to contend with.

Regardless, I did find the ability of the app to solve equations and graph them out quite impressive. Frankly, if I were in school, I would constantly use this app to understand better, visualize, and practice doing calculus.

For teachers, using this app on a Microsoft Surface, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S, or Huawei MateBook along with an HDMI out to a projector would be an excellent combination.

One feature I would like to see added, however, would be to save your work. I think it would be neat for teachers to be able to sketch out some examples before class so that they can quickly pull them up or so students can turn in or share their work. Then again, once you get used to using the app and the gestures, I think doing it live should not be much of a problem.

The future of math is digital ink

Overall, FluidMath is a perfect melding of old with the new. The app is a lot of potential for students and teachers and makes a great companion for homework or classroom demonstrations. Since professionals build the app, you are getting some high-level abilities by people who do this for a living.

FluidMath is free to try and runs for a modest $7.49 per year via an in-app purchase. Now if I could just go back 20 years and use this app my traumatic math experience may instead be positive memories!

Day 11 Sweepstakes:Win a Microsoft Surface 3!

How to Enter: Log into Windows Central and leave a comment on this post letting us know how FluidMath could help you solve problems in your day-to-day life. At the end of your comment you must also indicate you are posting as an entry into the sweepstakes, or use #sweepstakes.

Full rules and regulations can be found here, but please note that due to sponsor restrictions, the sweepstakes is only open to Windows Central readers in the US and Canada.

The sweepstakes is open until July 15th, and winners will be announced on the blog shortly after the close date.

The Prize: One super lucky Windows Central reader will take home a Surface 3 tablet! Good luck!

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Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

620 Comments
  • What a wonderful device for my kids going to school and Fluid Math would be a great companion.#sweepstakes
  • I don't use a lot of math on a daily basis ... But it might help me help my son as he is learning! And a Surface 3 tablet would be awesome to have! #sweepstakes
  • Wow, wish i had this in school.  My GodSon would love this! #sweepstakes
  • #sweepstakes Canada It will help me to easily solve problem with my friends with digit ink and also sync to onenote or chat with my teacher via skype to solve problems/
  • My daughter would use Fluid math more than I would. I am in finance and already have my models set up in spreadsheets.   #sweepstakes
  • Working in a semi-analytics role for the casino industry, this app is a great tool to make quick formulas come to life and help solve complex problems by solving their components quickly. #sweepstakes
  • Being a mechanical enginner in Schlumber - It will gonna help me on the go in my work. Easy to draw via ink on the go and easy to carry,  - Must for my work #Sweepsrakes
  • Fluid math looks like it could help me as a finish my degree in engineering. It's always good to have multiple checks on your work. #sweepstakes
  • Being a math novice this app will help me help my kids with upper level high school math.   #sweepstakes  
  • This would help me helping my kids as my math skills are going away from me for some reason... May be I'm aging... LOL! #sweepstakes.
  • Man wish this existed when I was in HS / College. I remember the best we had was the "even numbers listed in the back of the book". With a time machine I'd take this back and ace math....profit. #Sweepstakes 
  • for various probalilities  plotting everyday life like how long it takes me too work every day, track my various activity , plot them in to graphs and analyse then and solve!  #sweepstakes
  • FluidMath could really help me to write examples for my son when I help him with his school work next school year. #sweepstakes
  • This could help me with learning my kids  overly complicated math homework.    #sweepstakes
  • While I wouldn't have as much use for it as when I was in college, my kid is about to need this sort of thing for school. As for saving, you can always take a screenshot. While that's not as helpful as native saves, it's still useful. #sweepstakes
  • More intuitive than the graphing calculator my kids use in their math classes.  #sweepstakes
  • I would love to give this to my wife. combined with this app, it would be super useful in her job, as a clinical coder. #sweepstakes
  • Is this Eve product? :)
  • Hello. I assist my nieces with homework and with some math problems even I struggle, so having this tool would be great since I lost my TI-83 from school. #sweepstakes
  • Writing with a pen to do math is so much more natural than calculator buttons, making it much easier to use everyday. Awesome app! #sweepstakes
  • Would love this for my daughter #sweepstakes
  • FluidMath would help me when I go to college next year. I'm going to have a lot of math classes and stuff, so this is just what I need. #sweepstakes
  • Amazing tool while your in school. Would see this being ver usefull to a lot of students. #sweepstakes
  • Daugther will love it. #sweepstakes
  • Born to early #sweepstakes
  • This looks great for some basic stuff, I wonder what the most complicated math is that the app can properly calulate for. Time to download and test!
  • Really cool, I teach an algorithms class at work, could really use it to visualize different runtimes from search algorithms or select statements. #sweepstakes
  • This app would help me keep practicing math. #sweepstakes
  • Aw man kids have it easy these days. I had to do this from memory in class. But now that I myself have a kid, this is a great tool to have. I think this tool and Wolfram Alpha side by side will make studying a lot more engaging. So FluidMath will be more a help for both me and my son as he learns math from simple to advanced.   #sweepstakes
  • FluidMath would work wonders in helping my nephew with his math homework!  #sweepstakes
  • Going back to college and I have to take pre calculus again. Never did very good at it before, perhaps this app will change all of that. #Sweepstakes
  • This, and the surface 3 would help my wife doing her medical work. #sweepstakes
  • Though I don't have to use algebra as much these days, I have to come in with the other parents here and say that is use it for educating my children. Kids these days are so fortunate to have ready access to technology for learning. #sweepstakes
  • I would use FluidMath to help the youth I mentor with his math homework because I'm terrible at it! #sweepstakes 
  • this would help with college work as much is needed in that area #sweepstakes 
  • Will definitely download this app. Love the idea, and always loved Math. Will surely use it in helping on my duties at work. Hopefully will install it on my Surface 3 as well. #sweepstakes
  • Simply put, Fluid Math is awesome. I have been using this pc app for over a year for high school and college level math. Students are able to compare their work with worked out answers from Fluid Math, they can also compare their graph sketches with that of the app. The graph drawing feature is amazing. A really neat feature with graphs is that students can instantly observe transformational changes to linear, quadratic and other mathematical functions. In my opinion every high school should be equipped with Fluid Math. #sweepstakes.
  • Taking several math classes next semester and this would definitely come in handy #sweepstakes
  • Fluid Math will help me plan my next Marine Aquarium #sweepstakes
  • As a new Dad, I have come to realize that in the not too distant future, I'll have a son that's asking me math questions! There a bit of terror that comes along with that realization (I wasn't the best, but did ok), that's had me thinking about giving myself some math refreshing, but it's hard to find good apps that are simple to use. FluidMath looks like a great option for this. #sweepstakes
  • Fluid Math would prove a great learning tool for my son, and an aid to myself to brush up on math with which I've grown quite rusty. Looks like a great combination of software and hardware #sweepstakes
  • Thank you for this! Now I don't look like (as much of) an idiot when I help my kids with their homework!! #sweepstakes
  • I feel that I'd love using FluidMath in the classroom environment for when I am teaching students! #sweepstakes
  • I am definitely going to try this app out on my Surface³.  I often tutor my kids in math and have always used OneNote.  This sounds like the perfect tool for me, although I'd prefer to pay once and be done, as opposed to a subscription-based model for this app. #sweepstakes
  • Honestly, this is the most revolutionary math application I have seen in quite some time. It takes the natural way most of us learned to write out equations and builds it into recognizable digital equations. If I had a Microsoft pen capable device, this would definitely be on my must have application list. #sweepstakes
  • My sister would love this. She's a math teacher and is big on using her tablet for math equations. #sweepstakes
  • Fluid Math is amazing, by l