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Handhelds Hardware

Integrated Pocket PC, GPS and Laser Range Finder 169

Posted by michael
from the you'll-put-your-eye-out dept.
freitasm writes "Geekzone is reporting on Ike, made by Surveylab. Ike is a handheld data capture device that integrates GPS, an electronic compass, a laser distance meter, an inclinometer, a digital camera, and a Pocket PC 2003 handheld in a single unit, ideal for GIS and other surveys."
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Integrated Pocket PC, GPS and Laser Range Finder

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  • Ah, but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:48PM (#8240947) Journal
    ...can you mount it on the head of a shark?
  • My day (Score:4, Funny)

    by SillySnake (727102) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:48PM (#8240949)
    Back in my day we only had luck and those flashy things up in the air at night.
    • In my day, we didn't have flashy things up in the air at night. Every morning, three hours before we went to sleep, our da would wake us up. We'd have warm gravel for breakfast and then we'd have to crawl over broken glass to draw all of the stars up in the sky for us to navigate by. Then we'd have to blink our eyes rapidly to make them seem like they were flashing. And we lucky to have them.
  • Good! (Score:3, Funny)

    by kc0re (739168) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:48PM (#8240956) Journal
    For all of us that don't have enough toys to begin with. This will consolidate some of them..
    • Oh, come on. This is some sort of turbo-charged slide-rule/pocket protector for the 22nd Century (it's that advanced).

      Here's a thought: step away from the IKE and start walking towards the member of the appropriate gender of desire.

  • Hey look! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ParadoxicalPostulate (729766) <saapad AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:48PM (#8240958) Journal
    Its a tricorder!
    • Sounds like something Homer Simpson would buy! Sure sounds..er.. useful.
    • What are the true capabilities of a tricorder? What is the difference between a star trek tricorder and one from the next generation. Do they have tricorders yet in star trek enterprise?

      So my question is, what exactly is a tricorder supposed to do?

      • Some obvious features:
      • Temperature measurements
      • Radiation measurements, light, radar, gamma rays, etc
      • Communications capability
      • Data storage/retrieval
      • Radiation emmision capabilities
      • Bells,whistles and flashing lights

      What have I missed?

      • From the "STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION TECHNICAL MANUAL":

        The sensor assemblies incorporate a total of 235 mechanical, electromagnetic and subspace devices mounted about the internal frame as well as imbedded in the casing as conformal instruments. 115 of these are clustered in the forward end for directional readings, with a field-of-view lower limit of 1/4 degree. The other 120 are omnidirectional devices, taking measurements of the surrounding space

        It also has data storage capacity of 6.91 kiloq
    • "Its a tricorder!"

      I'll wait for Apple to relase one. Those come in with a mother ship hacking utility.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:49PM (#8240976)
    ...in your pocket or are you just happy to see the hole you're burning into my retina.
  • I like it... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 59Bassman (749855)
    I'm not sure what I'd do with it personally, but the concept is cool.

    I can see this being used by lots of folks probably not in the original target market: professional hunting guides. All in one unit rangefinder/gps/camera? Make it durable and I bet the hunting crowd would be all over them.

    • Archaeology (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ParticleGirl (197721) <SlashdotParticleGirl AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @04:09PM (#8241187) Journal
      It's the perfect tool for an archaeologist. We need compasses, GPS, inclinometers, digital cameras-- but I probably couldn't use it under the canopy of a jungle, and since the battery is only good for 8 hours and rechargable in a car-- and I wouldn't see a car nor a generator for a couple of months-- it remains, sadly, impractical. I guess I just have to tote around the 6 separate, heavier instruments and the supply of batteries. If this had smarter batteries, I would be ecstatic right now. I'm sure that archaeologists who work closer to civilization (and therefore care less whether they're carting 1 instrument or 6) are probably pretty psyched, though!
    • My first thought was that you could make a pretty half-decent 3D imager out of it. The laser range finder and inclinometer alone would do the trick. The GPS adds an extra level of position measurement and the camera allows redundant range calculation via triangulation with the laser, making it even more accurate range measurement.

      Of course, to image an object in 3D in any sort of reasonable time, your wrist will probably get a little sore.

  • Great... (Score:2, Funny)

    by niko9 (315647)
    for all the Slashdot geeks. They can take pictures of all the girls they could have hooked up with.

    Hell, they can even look at each other range finders to see who actually got the closest to a girl.
    • They can take pictures of all the girls they could have hooked up with.

      You mean, all the girls they could have hooked up with if they weren't carrying the combined GPS, electronic compass, laser distance meter, inclinometer, digital camera, Pocket PC 2003 handheld? Come on, even then it's unlikely.

    • Re:Great... (Score:2, Funny)

      by MiniMike (234881)
      Hell, they can even look at each other range finders to see who actually got the closest to a girl.

      Read the article. The rangefinder only works up to 100 yards.

  • for one that can record video. :)
  • by smokin_juan (469699) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:51PM (#8240992) Homepage Journal
    ... for something like this with a cell phone. this is close but the wait continues.
  • I believe it was George Carlin who said that only in America could you stick any two things together and someone would buy it.
  • This is cool. A great toy that will let everyone put up 3D models of their houses so they can offer virtual tours on the web. Or put out for bids on landscaping or renovations.

    I love toys...

  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:52PM (#8240996) Journal
    I've been asked by golfers if there's a device that will let them measure the exact distance to the pin (or at least the green).

    I've always been at a loss to tell them what they could use, at least when it came to handheld optical devices.
    • by bugnuts (94678) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @04:01PM (#8241088) Journal
      There are several devices for this, from the $20 monocular to a $300 laser rangefinder.

      The $20 version simply has markings, similar to a rifle scope, where the user simply matches the height of the pin to the markings and reads the result. The farther away, the smaller the pin.

      A $20 version that uses no batteries is often far better suited for most golfers, imho. The only time it's not as useful is when the pin is missing or non-standard size.
      • There are several devices for this, from the $20 monocular to a $300 laser rangefinder.
        Yeah, but this thing checks the incline as well. It's a lot different hitting to a green that's a few feet above you to one that's a few feet below. On the down side, the site says the range of the laser is only 100 meters, so its current form would be pretty useless for golf.
    • by CrankyFool (680025) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @04:01PM (#8241092)
      Hand-held optical devices that measure distance have been around for a while -- I have the Bushnell Yardage Pro 500 which lets me get a distance reading up to about 1000 yds. Hell, Bushnell makes range finders specifically for golfers.

      The only problem with these that I've found is that you need some decent flat surface perpendicular to the laser to reflect it -- so trying to laze, say, a building works pretty well, but trying to laze the flag on the green would be problematic (and I've had issues trying to laze some mammals and such at longer distances when trying to set my sights).
    • Best thing for golfers these days is the incredibly expensive (but nice) Suunto G9 [suuntousa.com]. Roughly 800 bucks for a watch . . hem hem sorry - Wristop Computer.

      Uses GPS to work out where you are and then calculates how far you are hitting the ball. Supposely there are a number of popular golf courses available for download so you can tell hole distance etc.

      Must make sense for people who play this silly game. .

    • Try a Leica Vector [vectronix.ch]. Basically a binocular with a built in range finder. Used by a lot of military snipers.
  • Detail level (Score:2, Informative)

    by savagedome (742194)
    and the built-in digital camera captures images of up to 1280 x 1024 pixels

    Thats only a little higher that 1MP. Don't the GIS surveys need more detail than that?

    • Well yes and no, depending of type of surveying you are doing. I think that its impossible to find one handheld today that is an useful tool for all type of survey work. Most surveying use aerial photos as a base, unless they are corrections or add-ons to old maps, or based on magnetical, sonar, radar or other obscure methods. So photos taken by the survey man himselfs are often of interesting details, but 1024x768 seems low (even if it has good optics)
      Geological surveying
      -Soil, large screen needed, ca
    • Re:Detail level (Score:3, Informative)

      There are 2 kinds of GPS equipment - mapping grade and survey grade. Survey grade has accuracy down to about 1cm, and mapping grade is generally in the range of 1-10 meter accuracy.

      This thing is mapping grade, but of dubious quality. The world leader (also in New Zealand), is Trimble [trimble.com]. They will run you about 6k for a submeter accurate unit, that is rugged and comes with a good warranty.
  • Still... (Score:3, Funny)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:54PM (#8241017) Homepage Journal
    Ike is a handheld data capture device that integrates GPS, an electronic compass, a laser distance meter, an inclinometer, a digital camera, and a Pocket PC 2003 handheld in a single unit, ideal for GIS and other surveys."

    Still, it's missing a wasabi dispenser.

  • GIS? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How is this good for Google Image Search? ;o
  • by plcurechax (247883) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:54PM (#8241023) Homepage
    GPS, Differential GPS, and WAAS isn't accurate enough for high quality survey work. All of these of limited accuracy of more 1 meter, whereas any decent survey should measure error hopefully less than 10 millimeters.

    • And what do you think that GIS specialists use? You think that they are using personal-use GPSs? Get real.

      I was given a demonstration of what they had back in 1994 when I was a Scout. They were accurate to the size of a dime (and that long before SA was turned off and WAAS was available -- so they are obviously not hampered by the scrambled signals).
      • Carrier-phase differential GPS and a low-multipath environment will get you centimeter-level accuracy. WAAS and SA being turned off help speed up the acquisition process but that's about all; the fundamental resolution achievable by GPS receivers (when used to measure carrier phase) is limited by the clock accuracy (satellite and receiver) and close-in multipath.
        For more information on GPS technology check out GPS equipment manufacturer FAQs [novatel.com]
        • Carrier-phase differential GPS and a low-multipath environment will get you centimeter-level accuracy.

          Since the device as depicted and described in the article appears to be a single GPS receiver, Carrier-phase D-GPS is not applicable. And there is the gotcha of a known reference point requirement which you didn't mention.

    • What about when that more accurate Galileo GPS thing comes out?
    • by addie (470476) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @04:07PM (#8241169)
      Perhaps for engineering survey work, but for geological mapping, this tool would be a god-send. 1 meter accuracy is more than enough to get a general idea of the lay of a formation. A notebook would still be necessary to take down strike/dip measurements, but those could then be easily correlated to the GIS info back at the camp. The digital camera could also be useful for keeping track of variations in color, consolidation, weathering features, etc on samples in a formation.
      • I agree for the most part. However, I don't know if I'd want to take something like this out in the field. Dust/Rain/Mud/Trees are no match for your Brunton, but I'd be hesitant to get down and dirty with this.

        Another plus is that if my Brunton somehow goes tumbling down a cliff, it should still work. What will happen if I accidentially drop this All-In-One device when trying to get dip on an outcrop that is on a cliff?
        • Another plus is that if my Brunton somehow goes tumbling down a cliff, it should still work

          I tested this theory, unintentionally. I'm happy to report that it still works as good as new. What a gorgeous piece of equipment.

          As for your other points, you're absolutely right. I would only carry this tool if I still had my 2 compasses and maps in my pack along with me.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      any decent survey should measure error hopefully less than 10 millimeters.

      Wow, that's really an uninformed statement.

      There are plenty of apps where low-res is appropriate.

      In my line (wildlife biology/gis), it is rare to require anything higher than 1 m resolution. And really, the datasets we use most commonly are 28.5 m res.
      • Wow, that's really an uninformed statement.

        There are plenty of apps where low-res is appropriate.


        I did not mean to diss low-resolution usage - glad to hear such technology could be useful to you, but there was a naive subtext that traditional land/engineering surveying would be replaced with these high-tech gadgets without realising that they still operate on a very different scale of accuracy.

    • GPS, Differential GPS, and WAAS isn't accurate enough for high quality survey work. All of these of limited accuracy of more 1 meter, whereas any decent survey should measure error hopefully less than 10 millimeters.

      Wrong, each of these technologies is sufficiently accurate for surveying. GPS alone has (can have) an error rate of less than 2cm over 50 miles. You just have to have a known point. Everything can be calculated in real time or post processed. Most systems like this (certified for surveyi

    • Maybe 10 years ago GPS wasn't good enough. However, it is good enough for land titles [gov.bc.ca] in British Columbia (not very many survey monuments to tie into for minesites in the middle of nowhere). I don't know if I would want to do building construction layout (millimetre accuracy) using GPS, but if GPS is fine for land titles, it should be OK for most purposes. The Geodetic Survey Division of Natural Resources Canada has some more info [nrcan.gc.ca] on the different GPS methods. Check out the final part on Carrier Positioning
      • However, it is good enough for land titles in British Columbia (not very many survey monuments to tie into for minesites in the middle of nowhere).

        Provided they met Survey accuracy standards [gov.bc.ca] of 0.02 meters, 2 centimeters plus "100 parts per million times the baseline distance" up to 0.12 metres.

        AFAIK a single receiver GPS, as found is all consumer grade GPS units, and based on the photo in the article, the device in question, do not met this criteria.
    • Yeah, but it's plenty for calling in airstrikes...
  • when they manage to shrink them to the size of Derek Zoolander's Mobile Phone.
  • Oh no... (Score:4, Funny)

    by nick0909 (721613) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:54PM (#8241025)
    "Ike is a Pocket PC running [...] Bluetooth."

    I hope Nokia didn't help them with the Bluetooth code.
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:55PM (#8241032) Homepage Journal
    I'm afraid this gadget has too much real-world application to be of interest to the geek crowd.

    We just bought a few acres of land, and this device would have been the ideal tool for the surveyor. It's clear from the discrepancies between the survey drawing and the aerial views [dfwmaps.com] that the surveyor made his measurements, wrote them down, then made his drawing from his notes. The numbers are right, but the outlines of the buildings aren't quite where they should be.

    This device, plus a windoze PC with appropriate software, will let the surveyor simply walk to the survey points, point & shoot, hotsync, and print. It's just what the surveyor needs to do his/her job.

    So it's obviously too useful to be a geek toy.

    • This would probably make an EXCELLENT tool for detectives if it would digitally sign record collections. You can take photos and get imprinted GPS information. Take notes on them and record voice notes over the photos.

  • ... to play with this while driving down the highway.

  • This is good enough for rough surveys, but not good enough to allow collecting random images, locating them in space, and building 3D models. Another generation or two, and the expensive tripod-mounted Reigl scanners used for model-building will be replaced by handheld devices.
  • So now I will be able to find exactly where I want to hike up the mountain, be able to know which way I am going, know exactly how far I am from the top, tell how close to verticle I am approaching, take photos as I approach the summit and then have company that will understand me when I trip and crash and go tumbling down said mountain.
  • WTF MATE (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by sudotcsh (95997)
    Jesus, it takes all that hardware just to do a Google image search nowadays? Talk about bloat ...
  • hmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by netfall (721323)
    sounds like something made by swiss army. all it needs now is a magnifying glass and a toothpick.
    on a serious note, the perfect addition to the features on this would be cell phone. and wifi. i decided i'm going to wait out on getting a new cell phone until it does absolutely everything i want (no, not need - want).
  • wardriving... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:57PM (#8241054) Homepage
    This is especially useful for wardriving and warflying...

    See here [agentgreen.org].

    I never found my PocketPC all that great for usage w/the GPS (I am using PocketPC 2002 though). I have constant stability issues and in the extreme temps we experience here (it got down to -22 without windchill in January) the PocketPCs just don't hold up well enough.
    • This is especially useful for wardriving and warflying...

      Not quite. Read the specs.

      I have constant stability issues and in the extreme temps we experience here (it got down to -22 without windchill in January)

      According to the page, these things are good only to 0C - so it would be useless for you.. and to add insult to injury, max. temp is only +40C.

      With a temperature rage that limited (and the fact that it's not waterproof - not even IPX2), I gotta wonder what the market for something like this is
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @03:57PM (#8241055) Journal
    This sounds like a civilian version of the GPS/lidar/etc/binoculars recently used by the military for spotting targets for artillery and other attack missions.

    Look at the target, center the crosshairs, read the *target's* GPS co-ordinates (or dump them into the battle net).
  • We would have loved that at the geophysics job I had right after college.

    There's probably a much bigger market for this device than most people think.
  • I imagine this might come in handy for consensus surveys.
    Take a picture of the person who signs your petition/donates to your organization, get their photograph and GPS position recorded in a database.

    AND SELL ALL THE DATA TO THE MATRIX PROJECT
    MUAHAHAHHAHAHAHAAHHAHHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yes... yes... indeed.
    Time to screw my tinfoil cap on a tad bit tighter now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    could have taken a picture of Janet Jackson's breast and documented the time, exact location, inclination, direction and the exact distance from "the breast" to my seat with the range finder. The exact answer to "where were you when the "wardrobe malfunction" occured"...
  • Its not new (Score:2, Informative)

    by fozzylyon (696418)
    It sounds like the old P40ES system that county and state surveyors have been using for over a decade. A co-worker was even involved in the P40's developement and said that it was a simple task of relaying the opt signal to the three receivers (compass, inclinometer, ld meter). The only NEW developement I see here is the "digitality" of the compass and the addition of the digital camera. Besides that though, I doubt that its worth the retraining of a personnel who are adept at working with the previous e
  • Does this thing have a pricetag yet? Couldn't seem to track down an amount.
  • I have always said that a pair of binoculars with all theses features plus a wireless modem or some sort would be an effective utility for the military. It would make it easier for combat controls to send target information to strike aircraft.

    Heck you make it better you can give the average solider a 2000 lb hand grenade.

  • by JGski (537049) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @04:07PM (#8241170) Journal
    $12K a pop! That won't be on my Christmas list for a while. I'm sure people will whip up an open-source clone project. Interestingly this a lot like something I "invented" as a teen (on paper anyway, I still have the drawings in my garage)! I won't give away my age, except to say that was more than one patent life ago. :-)

    BTW, the secret to finding prices on a web site for products that "don't list price" is to check the press releases - reporters tend to ignore press leads that don't have an estimated price. It would not look good with readers to present rave article for a product none of them can afford or budget for.

  • Dear Dad (Score:5, Funny)

    by mikeophile (647318) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @04:09PM (#8241185)
    Thanks for giving this neat gadget for Christmas. I thought I'd send you this email from it to let you know how it's working out. As you can tell from the coordinates, I'm backpacking in the Alaskan wilderness. It's great here. Just me and nature. I've never done any camping this ambitious, but with this toy how can I go wrong? Here's some pictures. Isn't it beautiful? Oh look! There's a bear and some cubs a couple hundred yards away. Here's some pictures. Hold on, I'll let you know exactly how far away with the laser rangefinder. The big one is precisely 220.6 meters away. This is so cool! Oh now it moving. Now it's 190.2 meters away. Make that 153.6 meters. It's hard to beleive something that big could move so fast. 98 meters now. Hmmmm, I don't suppose I'm irritating the bear by shining this laser in it's eyes? It's 46 meters away now. I should probably go. I love you Dad. Tell Mom I lov...

    <NO CARRIER>
  • war-walking (Score:2, Interesting)

    by goalive (729667)
    This sounds like the ideal device for handheld wardriving or 'war-walking'. With some open source software from handhelds.org [handhelds.org] for the PocketPC, thanks to Jim Gettys and his team, the Kismet wireless and a host of open source tools, you've got the basics. The integrated GPS and the laser distance meter then give you almost everything you'd need to start finding wireless networks, map then, and publish the results on the Internet. Wait! See someone suspicious coming towards you? Just put the device into your
  • by mr_lithic (563105) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @04:17PM (#8241264) Homepage Journal
    This would be perfect for real estate agents who need to combine their pda's and electronic distance measurers but it seems a little imprecise and lightweight for real survey work.

    The title of top survey data collector is still the HP-48GX [johann-sandra.com].

    When we ran survey we would try to grab the tripod with the HP-48 bracketed on it. This little data collector would make our lives easier, reduce the overall time for the survey and increase the time in the pub. All very good things.

    HP-48GX - Good data bucket and a good deal cheaper than the grand that Topcon and such want for their Data Collection handhelds.

  • by tr0llb4rt0 (742153)
    MMM I wonder how far it is to that rock

    points range finder

    Pocket pc is shutting down ....

    D'Oh!
  • Laser Speed Gun? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WorkingHome (250528)
    It would be fun to play around with the laser distance mechanism to see if you could design a speed gun with this thing. I would hope they would allow developers access to the appropriate APIs to allow this. It wouldn't be good for police work, but it would be fun the average consumer. The price needs to come down quite a bit, though.
  • by flacco (324089) on Tuesday February 10, 2004 @04:24PM (#8241338)
    ...and for targeting mortars.
  • If they could bring the price down these would be perfect for Geocaching [geocaching.com]! I'm drooling at the thought. It would be easy to write some software to allow you to upload a GPX file and then have the unit load all the waypoints and be able to display the cache info. Anyone want to donate $12000 for me to test it?
  • It's huge and heavy: 260mm x110mm x 70mm weighing more than a kilogram. Not something you would put in a pocket, and only to be "handheld" for a short time.
  • Ok, it's a little bulky, and I don't really need a laser rangefinder (mmm... verify USGS benchmark towers... aaaaah). And maybe it's a little pricey.

    But it's tough to get all this into one package. Most add-on cameras and GPSr's for PDAs take the same CF or SDIO slot, meaning one or the other. Being able to take a picture and know where and exactly when it was taken from the GPS is useful. Now, if it only had a QVGA or better screen (can't tell from the specs), high-quality audio reproduction (yes, Win
  • Ever tried to aim an invisible infrared laser beam at an object 20 centimeters across 100 meters away without a viewfinder?

    When they come out with a visible beam (doubles as a presentation pointer!) and 300-meter range I'll think about buying one.
  • I want a single handheld gadget which combines:
    • GPS
    • Mobile phone
    • Digital camera
    • MP3 player
    • Palm pilot / Pocket PC / etc.
    When I can have all of those in one unit, I'll think about buying it. Until then, I'm not going to own any of the above.
  • ...with 20 kilometer long power cord, since the batteries last roughly 30 seconds before expiring in a blue blaze.
  • This sounds like a civilian version of what an air combat controller would use to call in an airstrike with GPS guided bombs.
  • The $6 version (Score:2, Informative)

    by eggmit (685782)

    http://zedev.com/software/rangefinder/ [zedev.com]

    It's an optical rangefinder program for the Pocket PC. The program has a database of images (person, tree, car, etc) of known heights. You hold the Pocket PC at arm's length and resize the image on the screen until it's the same height as the distant image. Based on all that, it calculates the distance to the image.

    You can also specify values like the height of your Pocket PC screen, the length of your arm, or the height of the thing you're measuring (if you wan

  • Augmented Reality [howstuffworks.com] is basically annotating meatspace with metadata. This device can collect images and text and associate them with a temporal and postional location, all in realtime since the device has networking. Now if that isn't made for augmented reality data collection, I don't know what is. Now all we need is a good open, public data store like the web, a means of looking up information based on positional criteria, and come up with some decent equipment to strap to our heads... and then we've go

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