Tape measure

Ted Penner
Ted Penner used Ask the Experts™
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Take a measurement if all you have available is a cell phone.

The other day, I wanted to take a measurement of some rubber pads that are screwed into the underside of a portable set of bleachers in the gymnasium of my church. I did not have a tape measure and so I did the next best thing and took the picture attached to this message.

Ideally, I would like to find an app, that will allow me to get an accurate measurement when all I have with me is a cell phone.

I have tested several apps in the past and so far haven't identified anything that really works, so some assistance here is greatly appreciated.
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Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
AR apps provide a good estimate but they are not accurate because of the calibration algorithm (assumes every item in the calibration is the  same distance from the viewpoint) and this worsens with close up measurements of small distances. You really need to calibrate against a known scale.  For example with the bleachers example something like a coin (A Dime is 17.91mm in diameter) then an app like https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vistechprojects.millimeter alternatively there are apps that simply pop a ruler up on your screen if you want to measure something 4 inches or less.
Ted PennerSoftware Engineer

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Commented:
The Google one looks fantastic and I looked at a video about how to use it on YouTube. Apparently it was just updated because it looks a little different now.

I tried using it and was unable to drag the edges as depicted in the videos.

Thanks for what looks like a really good suggestion though. I would be interested in seeing if you were able to use for current version or whether you ran into the same issues.

I tried to take my first phone-based screencast of the issue that I ran into here https://photos.app.goo.gl/yQmKWmWnAENpbppn7.

Additional assistance is greatly appreciated.
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Top Expert 2016

Commented:
a gravy container? what I do is include something that I have in the picture and then measure the item I have and then -do the math.
Ted PennerSoftware Engineer

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Commented:
It is a little bit tricky. I got it to work last night reliably and this morning I had to go back over the steps to remember. Once you have done it a time or two it kind of makes sense.

However, they clearly have some work to do to make it more intuitive.

If you move the camera back and forth across a larger set of objects, you will start to see dots, a central starting point represented on the screen, as well as a center button on the bottom of your screen.

That center button at the bottom of your screen is where you start. If you tap it twice oh, you will get both points on a yellow line to show up on the screen. That line is your tape measure.

I wish it were a little bit more intuitive but it does work, and it is a Google product. it is called Google measure and can be found here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.tango.measure. I expect it to get better over time.
I know this sounds really crazy, but I measured various parts of my body and memorised the dimensions.  Romans used the Cubit (elbow to middle finger) but you probably were short-changed when buying rope from a midget, so it wasn't very universal.

I know the measurements of the distal, intermediate and proximal phalanges of the index finger of my right hand, the width of my palm and the spread of my fingeres between thumb and small finger, the "cubit" measurement of my right arm, the length from the floor to my knee, my total height, the length of my head, and one other body part dimension that is less easy to use in public.

These have got me by pretty accurately over all the years.
Ted PennerSoftware Engineer

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Commented:
Bill that's hilarious. Thank you for adding that.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
i agree - it shows how much we are relying on tools that are not needed in any cases

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