Patent number 8615376 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Distances can be measured using standard measuring contraptions such as yard sticks, rulers, and so on. These devices generally measure linear distances representing a distance between a first point and a second point in Euclidean space (e.g., in a plane) along a straight line. The linear distances are considered to be the shortest distances between two points, and have generally been used since antiquity.
"Other techniques have been in existence for some time include flexible tape measures and wheel-based rolling measures that allow the distance along a non-linear (e.g., curved) path to be measured. These things are useful for measuring a circumference of a curved surface or the distance along a winding perimeter, path, and so on.
"Generally speaking, all of the above measuring devices require the user carrying out the measurement to physically position the devices, or ends thereof at two or more locations along the object being measured. For example, to measure the length of an object with a ruler, a person holds the ruler against the object and reads off the measurement increments to obtain the length reading. And to use a flexible tape measure, the user holds the tape against the surface being measured and reads off the units of measurement.
"These devices above are not conducive to measuring the length of an object in an inaccessible location. For example, if a person standing on the ground wishes to measure the length of a beam along an elevated ceiling of a building, the person would typically climb up to the ceiling on a ladder to place a ruler or tape measure against the beam to measure its length. This can be inconvenient, dangerous, or not possible.
"Some distance measurement devices have been developed recently that do not require physical contact or proximal placement against the objects being measured. For example, commercially available 'laser distance measuring' devices or 'laser range finder' products can be used from a position remote to the object being measured. These products deliver a beam of laser light which is projected out from a hand-held apparatus, impinging upon the object whose distance is to be measured, and displaying to the user a distance from the apparatus to the object upon which the laser light is being shone.
"It has not been possible or practical so far to make measurements that a user can conduct at a distance from the object being measured conveniently and accurately, especially if the measurements are along irregular or non-linear paths."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "In some embodiments, the present disclosure provides an apparatus for making measurements and computations of geometric quantities such as distances, areas and volumes. The measurements may be performed by pointing a measurement apparatus towards a plurality of points of interest in space, for example, points on an object of interest. More specifically, the measurements may be made by pointing a visible coherent light beam towards points on an object of interest or along a path so that the measurement apparatus can measure the plurality of distances to the respective points of interest and use geometric and/or trigonometric relations to compute said geometric quantities.
"In some aspects, the device provides a visible (or apparent) illuminated path along which it is computing the measured geometric quantity. For example, along a straight line connecting two spatial points of interest, or the vertexes of a triangle, rectangle, or polygon of interest.
"In some aspects, the device includes a user interface so that a user can actuate a button to indicate that the device is shining the coherent light beam at a point of interest and to capture a distance related to this point of interest. An encoder or sensor to capture angular rotation of the apparatus may be used to complete the information needed to determine the geometric quantities of interest.
"In other aspects, a processor and memory device are incorporated in the measurement apparatus to process measurements and to store information and results relating to the same.
"In still other aspects, a user interface comprising actuators like push buttons or switches or touch screen input/output devices may be included in the design to allow a user of the apparatus to input desired settings to the apparatus and to review output measurements and information from the apparatus.
"In some embodiments, the apparatus scans or rapidly delivers successive point or line output light signals to certain points in space so as to give a user a visual understanding of the physical positions and extent of that being measured. For example, once a user defines a beginning and ending point on a line segment (e.g., from one end of a beam to another) the apparatus can scan one or more spots of visible laser light onto the straight line segment between the two ends of the beam.
"In yet other aspects, the measurement apparatus can be coupled to another mobile device such as a cellular phone that can be plugged into a connector interface to communicate data between the mobile device and the measurement apparatus. The user interface and processor or memory of the mobile device may be used to provide data and instructions to the measurement apparatus or to receive data and results from the measurement apparatus. A docking or coupling place may be provided in the measurement apparatus for inserting the mobile device thereinto.
"Furthermore, once measurements of length or area or volume are made, the apparatus may incorporate pricing data to determine the expected cost of performing some work on an object of interest associated with the measurements. For example, it can compute the cost of linear feet of fencing, molding, or square feet of wall board or paint required to paint a room, and so on. The information about the geometric quantities or pricing may then be transmitted to other computing devices over connectors coupled to the measurement apparatus or over a network.
"Some embodiments are directed to an apparatus for measuring and computing geometric dimensions, comprising a housing suitable for a human user to grip and carry the apparatus thereby; a coherent light source that can be directed in a first direction so as to shine on a first target point of interest in space, and capable of being directed in a second direction so as to shine on a second point of interest in space; a distance measurement element including a circuit that determines a first distance from the apparatus to said first target point of interest, and capable of measuring a second distance from the apparatus to at least the second target point of interest in space; an angular displacement or rotational sensing element that determines an angle between a first line connecting said light source and said first point of interest, and a second line connecting said light source and said second point of interest; a data storage element that stores data representative of said measured distances to said first and second target points of interest; a processor that receives a plurality of inputs representative of at least said respective distances to the first and second target points of interest, and that calculates a distance between said first and second target points of interest; a visual display unit providing a visual indication of a plurality of operational features of said apparatus; and a user interface adapted to receive inputs from said human user to control said operational features of said apparatus.
"Other embodiments are directed to a hand-held apparatus for determining a distance between two points in space, comprising a housing arranged and sized to fit in a hand of a human user and that can be configurably directed in a desired direction; an emitter that emits energy from a first of said two points towards a second of said two points; a touch-sensitive pad configured to accept a user input to set said apparatus into a selected one of a plurality of operating modes and to accept a user input to mark a position of said second point in space relative to said first point in space; a receiver substantially at said first point that receives a returned portion of energy from said second point; an electronic circuit that executes instructions that determines a distance between said first and second points from inputs; and a display screen, combined with said touch-sensitive pad so as to form a touch screen user interface, that displays both said selected operating mode and said distance thereon.
"Yet other embodiments provide a method for measuring a length or distance between two points of interest using a processor executing instructions that take as an input a first measured distance to a first point of interest and a second measured distance to a second point of interest and an angle between the respective first and second points and a reference point. In some embodiments a law of cosines is used to calculate the distance between the first and second points of interest without requiring a device or user to be located at a special place (e.g., at a vertex, edge, or right angle) with respect to that being measured."
URL and more information on this patent, see: Thierman, Jonathan S.; Hallaj, Ibrahim M.. Method and Apparatus for Dimensional Measurement. U.S. Patent Number 8615376, filed
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