February 7, 2007

how to measure anything with a camera and software

Filed under: photography, interesting — gandalf23 @ 10:54 am

How to measure anything with a camera and software

Quick, when I say iPhoto, you think of what. Apple, right? Difficult as it may be, forget Apple for a second and add the word "measure" as in iPhotoMEASURE. What is it? Well, what if I told you that you could use a digital camera, even a cell-phone camera, along with some software to measure any items you can snap a picture of? The solution is the iPhotoMEASURE application that I just heard about. Although it’s really geared towards contractors, Realtors and the like, there’s a number of consumer applications that make this a compelling product.

First off, the "secret sauce" of the solution is called a "DigiTarget". The DigiTarget gives everything in your photo a frame of reference; it’s a single sheet of paper with a 7.5 x 7.5-inch square on it. A 15-inch square version is also available for outdoor measurements. Simply print off a free DigiTarget, affix it to something in your photo scene and snap a pic. The iPhotoMEASURE software uses the DigiTarget to compute the measurements of items in your photo and the company claims that any distance in the picture can be measured with up to 99.5% accuracy. Conceptually, it makes sense since the software has that 7.5- or 15-inch frame of reference.

I can definitely see the benefit to contractors that need measurements to accurately quote a job or price materials. Same goes for those in real estate, interior design, etc. From a consumer standpoint, can you imagine heading to Home Depot or Lowes with a photo printout of your new home improvement project? I thought I impressed the Home Depot folks when I did something similar with OneNote Mobile and my UMPC, but I had to manually measure everything and then ink it on the picture.

How about furniture shopping? Snap a pic of your room measurements, bring your camera to the furniture store and click, click, click to your hearts content. When you get home, you can measure up the best pieces and see if they’ll fit; no tape measure needed.

On the FAQ page, you’ll see plenty of details about the software. I noticed that you can use a cell-phone camera but only for close up scenes. The company recommends a minimum of 2-megapixels up to around 15-feet; after that, you’re better off with 4-megapixels or greater. All of this accuracy and measuring goodness does come at a price: the software will set you back $99.99 if you download it; $20 more gets you the software on CD plus a few more goodies. The software is available for both PC and Mac.

How well do you think it works? I suspect it works well, but I’ve requested an evaluation copy. If I see that come my way, we’ll put it through the paces right here.

1 Comment »

  1. We measure aircraft parts for dimensional accuracy with soething similar. Look up photogrammetry if you want to know more.

    Comment by Dean — February 16, 2007 @ 9:00 am

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