Spike puts laser measurement hardware on the back of a smartphone


December 23, 2013

Through the Spike smartphone app, users are able to capture, measure, 3D model and share any object up to 200 yards (183 m) away with what the company says is laser accuracy

Through the Spike smartphone app, users are able to capture, measure, 3D model and share any object up to 200 yards (183 m) away with what the company says is laser accuracy

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Traditionally, the technology that goes into laser hardware for surveying and 3D modeling has been the plaything of architects, surveyors and engineers. But now, with a view to expanding into the consumer market, Virginia-based IkeGPS wants to bring this functionality to the mainstream. And what better way to do it than sticking it on the back of a smartphone?

Spike builds on the company's established GIS (geographic information systems) tools, which were used by the UN in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The device attaches to the back of a smartphone and combines a built-in laser range finder, 3D compass and Bluetooth chip with the phone's camera and GPS.

Users take a photo of the object they wish to measure through the Spike companion app on their smartphone (the team has nearly completed an Android app and has an iOS app in development). The hardware then measures key metrics, such as distance, direction and volume and communicates this data to the smartphone via Bluetooth, displaying the augmented results on the screen. Users can then share this data, or use it to produce 3D models with what the company says is laser accuracy.

According to it's successful Kickstarter campaign page, the company will allow third party app developers access to an API (application programming interface), enabling the embedding of specialist ikeTools into applications in anticipation of augmented reality and location based services apps.

Spike is also compatible with 3D modeling software SketchUp. This means that rather than importing measurements manually, users can take an image with Spike to reproduce a scalable model of the object or building and 3D-print it as required.

The entire device weighs approximately 100 g (3.5 oz) and measures 90 x 50 x 20 mm (3.5 x 2 x .8 in). The 905 nm, Class 1 Eyesafe laser has a range of 2 to 200 m (6 to 600 ft) with a resolution of ±0.2 m (8 in). Spike is powered by an internal Li-ion cell battery recharged via a Micro USB connector, with each charge lasting two days of typical use, according to the company.

Spike can be pre-ordered via IkeGPS's website for US$559 with shipping (included) estimated for May 2014.

You can hear from the team behind Spike in the video below.

Source: ikeGPS

About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches. All articles by Nick Lavars

A few months ago, I predicted that a similar, much bulkier device would eventually become a feature of top smartphones. This development convinces me more of that. I'm looking to the next generation or two of Samsung Note devices to include this feature. At first consideration, this function seems for specialty use cases. However, when it is available at the touch of a button on an everyday device, people will begin to use it for everything (not just 3D measurements) and wonder how they ever lived without it--for such mundane things as determining body measurements for clothing sizes or will this sofa fit in that space. Say "goodbye", tape measure.


I love that I live in this day and age, things just keep getting cooler!

Paul Harvey
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