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Sketchup-ur-space Magazine - June 14

Author : Gail Overton

Spike smartphone app brings 3D laser modeling to the masses

The technology that goes into laser hardware for surveying and three-dimensional (3D) modeling has traditionally been the plaything of architects, surveyors, and engineers. But now, with a view to expanding into the consumer market, ikeGPS is bringing this laser modeling functionality to the mainstream through its Spike smartphone hardware and software app.

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 rangefinder, 3D compass and Bluetooth chip with the phone's camera and GPS. The entire device weighs approximately 100 g (3.5 oz) and measures 90 x 50 x 20 cubic millimeters. The 905 nm, Class 1 eye-safe laser has a range of 2 to 200 m with a resolution of ± 0.2 m. 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.

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 its Kickstarter campaign page at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ikegps/spike-laser-accurate-measurement-and-modelling-on, 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.

Spike can be pre-ordered on the ikeGPS website for $559 with shipping (included) and is estimated to be available in May 2014.

Spike smartphone app brings 3D laser modeling to the masses

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