Smart Tools for Smartphones
These three gadgets are designed for connectivity.
With ToolSmart — a collection of smartphone- connected digital tools — General Tools aims to streamline measuring, estimating, and buying materials for projects. The ToolSmart iPhone and Android apps pair with digital devices using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, enabling you to send measurements, photos, and videos to your smartphone and then organize the data by project. Within the app’s project folders, you can create simple lists of measurements, and you can take photos in the app and annotate them to see the measurements in context. There’s also a function that estimates materials (e.g., flooring, paint, crown molding) and then connects to the Lowe’s online store so that you can order materials and have them shipped to your job. Of the seven tools, these three are the most useful for remodeling work.
Laser Distance Measurer: The TS01 Laser Distance Measurer (LDM; $66) is an intuitive and practical tool, even without the Bluetooth smartphone app. With a few taps of the clearly labeled “measure/on” button, the backlit LCD wakes up, the laser pointer powers on, and your measurement shows up on the screen.
Several other buttons toggle between measurement modes, units of measure, and previously recorded measurements. The LDM can calculate area and volume and can triangulate the height of an object in the distance. Once paired with the ToolSmart app, the LDM requires just a click of the Bluetooth button to send your most recent measurement or calculation to your smartphone, where you can add it to a project list.
Angle Finder: The TS02 Digital Angle Finder (DAV; $50) is a 12-in. level mated to a rotating 101⁄2-in. ruler. Hit the power and extend the measuring arm, and you’re ready to measure any angle between zero and 228°.
The tool’s large LCD screen is easy to read from an arm’s length away, and the keypad has just three buttons: power, zeroing the angle finder, and quickly measuring angles — even in hard-to-reach locations. You can then send the measurements via Bluetooth to your smartphone for future reference or for creating cutlists.
Inspection Camera: The TS03 Video Inspection Camera (VIC; $200) connects to the ToolSmart app via Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth. Once the connection is made, the image on the camera’s screen is mirrored onto your smartphone. A tap of a button — either on the device or in the app on your phone — captures a still image or video clip and saves it in the app.
A flexible 3-ft.-long, 5⁄16-in.-dia. probe allows you to send the camera head deep into a wall, and the camera, with help from its adjustable-brightness LEDs, sends a clear image to the color LCD screen on the handset. The kit also includes a hook and magnet that you can attach to the end of the camera for retrieving small objects. There’s also a tiny mirror that can be clipped to the camera head so you can see around tight corners.