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Have you ever needed to measure something but parts of the object you were measuring were inaccessible? Here's where The Amazing Sticky Yard from Emerge Industries can help. It's a kit that includes two yardstick graphics, one with sticky backing and the other with a magnetic backing, which you attach onto the object you'd like to measure. Then you take a digital photo of that object, and open it in the Sticky Yard software. Here's the (semi) amazing part: with some limitations, it lets you digitally take multiple measurements of that object. We put it to the test.
For our review, Emerge Industries sent us its Sticky Yard Digital Measuring System ($49.95), which includes one adhesive yard-long piece of paper, a magnetic yard-long measuring tape, and the software on a CD. You can get the software only without the Sticky Yard graphics for $10 less.
Because I would be measuring items that were not necessarily magnetic, I decided to test the Sticky Yard adhesive, and I immediately started wondering what to do with the sticky back to yardstick after I had used the adhesive once. At $6.99 each, were these intended to be disposable? Each one is made of DuPont Tyvek, which is commonly used as a wrapping material around new houses, and is extremely strong. As I stuck it to the various surfaces, I noticed that its adhesive material was similar to that of Post-it notes, which could be used over and over again without damaging the material. After I was finished using it, I decided to stick it to the wall in the garage where I could easily unstick it and use it again later.
I set out to take a variety of pictures to measure the accuracy of the Sticky Yard. Taking photos of known objects, such as an eight-foot doorway, some windows I knew the size of, and a garage door as well as an arbor in the yard, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the sticky yard was remarkably accurate.
|After sticking the Sticky Yard on this arbor and photographing it, its software accurately measured the structure as being 12 feet wide and 8 feet tall.|
There are some limitations to its power, though. For example, you need to take the picture of the sticky yard yardstick with the camera perpendicular to it. If you take a picture of that yardstick at an oblique angle, your measurements will not be accurate. Also, everything that you wish to measure must be on the same plane as the sticky yard, or inaccuracy or will result there, too. For instance, as you can see in the graphic below, I took a picture of a lamp post and got an extremely accurate reading of it, but measuring the object behind it, it tells me that a house in the distance is only 4 feet tall.
|I found Sticky Yard to be particularly useful when taking a picture of a lamp post. It would be difficult to measure its height with a measuring tape, but it was quick and easy using the Sticky Yard photographic method. Notice its limitations, though, where the house in the distance only measures 8 inches high, and a tree is barely over a foot high. Objects must be on the same plane as the Sticky Yard measuring stick in order to be measured accurately.|
Once you've taken your pictures with either the sticky or magnetic yardstick placed somewhere in the frame, it's time to load the photos into the software and take measurements. The software is rather rudimentary, where you're not able to drag and drop a photo onto its icon on the desktop and have it open with the photo loaded. You must launch the software, and open the photo using the file/open dialogue. Spoiled by Photoshop, I'm also used to zooming in and out using the scroll wheel on the mouse, but that's done in this software by using the Shift + or Shift - keys on the keyboard.
Once your photo is loaded, your first task is to click on the top and bottom of the Sticky Yard which was placed in the picture and it can be oriented either horizontally or vertically. Once you have designated the size of the Sticky Yard in the photo, your next clicks will show you the dimensions from any one point to any other in the photograph. As you drag, you see the measurements in feet and inches (metric system is not available), updating as you move the mouse. Click at the other end of your measurement, and the line stays there in the shot, along with its measurement. You can also change the color of the lines and their associated dimensions, choosing between red, white, or black.
|In this photo, Sticky Yard was accurate in its measurements unless the angle of the object was not parallel to the camera. In this example, the top of the house didn't measure quite accurately -- it's 33 feet tall and Sticky Yard said it was just under 32 feet. However, it accurately measured the doors and windows that were on the same plane as the Sticky Yard measuring stick.|
Once you're done with your measurements, the software allows you to save the graphic in the Sticky Yard format. Then you can either print or e-mail the graphic to someone else, but the dimensions are only visible if that graphic is opened using the Sticky Yard software.
|Sticky Yard did best with this door, accurately measuring all of its dimensions, plus or minus an inch.|
Summing up, Sticky Yard is a clever idea that works very well as long as you follow its conventions. It's not going to help you if you're photograph is off-axis, or if the object you want to measure are not on the same plane as your yardstick. Given that, it works exactly as advertised, doing an extremely accurate job of measuring items that might not be easily measured otherwise. Highly recommended. 9.2 out of 10 stars.
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