NASA Spinoff

Software Programs Derive Measurements from Photographs

After taking a digital photo of an area to be measured, a user can access the photo through uPhotoMeasure. Then the user selects and defines a point of reference that can be anything in the image with a known measurement such as a window, tile, or DigiTarget (a square piece of material sold by DigiContractor that can be placed in the area where the picture is taken). After the user defines the measurements for the known reference point, the program can calculate the length, width, area, perimeter, or circumference of other items in the picture. Multiple measurements can be calculated in either conventional or metric units, and after the measurements are displayed on the photo, a user can save, archive, print, or email the image. This is especially convenient for sharing project measurements between individuals and businesses.

“We set out to be able to provide this technology at a certain price point to be able to be used by anybody, including the homeowner,” says Minor.

For outdoor landscaping or roofing projects, a satellite image can be used in uPhotoMeasure to calculate measurements. As in many other applications, the product can potentially save time and expense because there is no need to visit a site and use a measuring tape; users simply obtain a photograph of the project and then analyze it in uPhotoMeasure. A photo can be shared among multiple parties, an estimate can be made, and the proper amount of materials can be obtained.

“You can actually see the measurements in the photo and make a rough decision. You can get a pretty good idea of what a project will cost,” says Minor.

According to Minor, uPhotoMeasure has endless applications for anyone who needs precise measurements. Potential and existing users include, but are not limited to, architects; concrete and asphalt companies; developers; electrical engineers; enterprises and original equipment manufacturers; fencing and flooring companies; garage door and gutter companies; interior and exterior designers; landscaping; law enforcement; painters and plumbers; real estate professionals; sign, label, and decal companies; and swimming pool and spa companies. Even oceanographers have used the software to measure coral growth in a controlled environment. In addition, it has been applied to photos taken underwater to assist with oil rig repair and salvage work.

While there are other products on the market similar to uPhotoMeasure, Minor finds them to be more time consuming and expensive. As an example, he notes one police department that purchased a similar product, but is not using it because it takes too much time to set up to obtain dimensions. Minor says uPhotoMeasure could be used by police to clear the roads faster at an accident scene, using photographs to derive measurements rather than delaying traffic by taking measurements at the site.

“There are other technologies out there, but we are inexpensive,” he says. “Plus, we have better accuracy, thanks to NASA.”