For those of you who enjoy the finer points of forensics, this app is for you. Smart Tools is a paid app for Android smartphones that provides tools for length and angle, distance and height, sound and vibration as well as a compass and metal detector. For less than a cup of cappamochafrappajava, this app provides all the measurement tools you need in the field.
The app uses the camera for some of the tools (height, distance, and compass) to provide an accurate reading of the scene you're viewing. As would be with any smartphone, there are minor limitations. The maximum distance measurement for this tool on a Motorola Droid 2 is about 300 feet. This may be limited by the camera's capacity. Despite these limitations, the tool is good for providing preliminary measurements at accident or crime scenes to show distance traveled.
When using the compass, turn on your GPS and the tool gives you your coordinates. You can then text that information, including elevation, to your own phone. The ruler provides automatic conversion from imperial units to metric and vice versa. The sound meter will measure sound up to 140db. A great tool for those noise disturbance calls.
Though these tools may not be admissible in court, they provide a great first impression. The price is great for this set of eight tools, and these tools are easy to use. Each tool has its own help file for instructions if you get a little lost on how to use the tool.
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Tim Meacham is a police officer for a private university in central Virginia. He has a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Liberty University and plans to complete his master's in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati this summer.