Moore Foundation Funding iPad Apps?

Gordon Moore — the co-founder of Intel — might not have been an app developer in all his years as a technology innovator, but his foundation has been dabbling in app development.


Well, sort of.

With funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, San Francisco's Exploratorium — a world-renowned museum and educational center — recently developed and released Sound Uncovered, a free iPad app that helps users understand the science of sound.

The museum described the app as putting "users at the center of the experiment, bringing to life the surprising things that go bump, beep, boom and vroom." The app, which is now available in the iTunes App Store, also features articles and interactive media to further encourage discovery.

"We've always believed in technology's ability to bring the Exploratorium to people anywhere in the world, but the challenge lies in translating the authentic hands-on experiences of our visitors into the mobile era, where tablets and mobile devices are making it possible to multiply our reach in unprecedented ways," the Exploratorium's Executive Associate Director Rob Semper said in a statement.

It might seem unlikely that a Bay Area foundation with assets in the billions is providing funding for tablet app development, but when you look at the foundation's past charitable investments, it makes a bit more sense.

There are two areas in the foundation's Bay Area portfolio — local conservation programs and science and technology museums. Early in its history, the foundation provided grants of $5 million and $10 million to the Exploratorium, and throughout the years, they've provided support for the museum's community outreach programs.

In November 2011, the foundation awarded $300,000 for the Exploratorium's app development program, supporting "the development of prototype social media applications designed to support the public engagement with science." Sound Uncovered is the second app that the museum has released, as well. The first, Color Uncovered, was downloaded more than a million times.