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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Spike smartphone IkeGPS laser based device features measurement with snapshots

October 9th, 2013 by Susan Smith

Spike (Smart Phone ike!) from IkeGPS is a laser based device that attaches to your phone to ensure that you can rapidly & accurately measure & model an object up to 200 yards (600 feet) away just by taking a snapshot of it.  For ten years, Ike has been designing measurement and modeling systems for industrial customers.Using the IkeGPS technology, Spike makes use of the smartphone’s technology and adds its own features. It incorporates a digital camera, 3D compass, a laser range finder and GPS that snaps onto the back of your phone and fits into your pocket.

Spike integrates your smartphone’s current technology with some specialized features of its own. It amalgamates a digital camera, a 3d compass, a laser range finder and GPS. It fits neatly into your pocket yet is robust enough to use every day.

According to Darrell Etherington of Techcrunch, “The benefits of the Spike and its powers are evident…telecom and utility companies, architects, city planners, builders and more would be better served with a simple portable accessory and the phone they already have in their pocket than by specialized equipment that’s heavy, bulky, requires instruction on proper use and lacks any kind of easy instant data portability like you’ll get from a smartphone app’s “Share” functions.”

“The short version of IkeGPS was developed in concert with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a number of years ago,” said Leon Toorenburg. “It was a handheld GPS device with a laser rangefinder and a camera, and you can locate the target and take a photo of it at the same time. It is used to geotag measurements of buildings, and you don’t have to worry about where you took the photos because it’s attached to the GPS. We took it a stage further with the electrical ultility industry, they have no idea of what’s on their power poles, and with one photo they can take a measure of everything on the pole. They don’t have to spend hours at each pole with a measuring tape.”

Insurance adjusters can also use it to take a photo of a wall that may be falling down, for example, and get the size of it.

Laser range finders typically cost $1500 or so. This app that runs with the smartphone allows you to make measurements just from your smartphone, with height, width, distances without having to connect the rangefinder app to the smartphone at all.  “We’re also going to publish an API that allows people to take the functionality inside their custom workflows. Say you have an app on the iPhone, an insurance app and you want to measurement-enable that app, you can use our API and incorporate this into the insurance app,” said Toorenburg.

The price for these is approximately $US300 apiece, a fraction of the price of a regular laser rangefinder, and that includes all software enhancements IkeGPS will offer over the next year.  Toorenburg said, “If you need the advanced measurement pack we’re going to have that stuff on subscription basis, which ensures you get latest software and only functionality you need, a very industry specific toolbox.”

Toorenburg sees potential for this app in the insurance industry, engineering, architecture, and GIS industry. Some of the more interesting bleeding edge inquiries come from those developing really precise location based service apps using augmented reality overlays over building images, which can be very powerful for surveyors and architects. The GIS industry could use it in utilities, the military and city planning.

The laser on the back of the smartphone is not like lidar, as  it’s a single-point laser, and it doesn’t create a 3D point cloud. Instead it does calibrated photos like photogrammetry that can be put into Trimble Sketchup, then it extracts the 3D models from the photos. It creates 3D models in a slightly different way, but the key feature is that it’s an inexpensive device that fits on the back of your phone. “Users can take photos and construct the 3D model inside Sketchup, which is often where they work anyway,” said Toorenburg. It will also be very straightforward to put this functionality into an ArcGIS mobile map, where the photos will become part of the data.

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Categories: geocoding, laser radar, LBS, lidar, location based services, mobile, photogrammetry

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