Your smartphone can take pictures, access the Internet, help manage your finances, and keep you connected with the outside world. It seems the only thing it can’t do is take measurements like a ruler. But that may soon change.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have been able to identify the scale of an object using a smartphone’s camera and inertial measurement units (IMU) which are currently used to automatically switch a smartphone’s screen from portrait to landscape depending on how the user is holding it. By slowly moving the camera across an object, the researchers have found a way to determine its dimensions, down to a half a millimeter in some cases.
The key to this process is speed of the movement. Going too fast creates “noise” in the image that distorts the proportions. The scientists were able to get surprisingly accurate measurements when they moved at a very slow pace.
How will any of this impact you as a smartphone owner? If the feature is converted into an app and universally adopted, you could one day shop for furniture without having to bring a tape measure. Just point, capture and gather the information you need to make a buying decision.
Home improvement and furniture projects are just the start for 3D smartphone measurements. They could be used to help people try on virtual eyeglasses to determine which ones they want to buy. The simple discovery could have a major influence on a number of industries in the future, depending on how well the scientists are able to execute the technology.