Why I do not Hold Much Hope for the New Spike Laser Measuring Tool

Over the past few weeks, I have received a number of requests from my appraiser friends imploring my opinion on the new Spike (from ikeGPS) laser measuring device.  Let me be perfectly clear, this is not a formal review of the product.  I have never held one in my hands much less given it a fair trial.  Therefore, take this column for what it is worth… basically the same amount you paid for it (which was NOTHING).

SpikeLaserAppraiserI have read the company’s promotional materials, watched their video, and believe I am pretty familiar with how this works.  This gadget is a laser that straps to the back of your Apple or Android device and Bluetooths to an app on your tablet or smartphone.  Basically, you stand away from the wall you are trying to measure, take a photo, and then use cursers on the screen to mark the sections you would like to measure.  Voila!  You have your measurement.

Sounds pretty simple.  Much better than crawling through the underbrush with a 100’ tape or a roller, right?  Not so fast, cowboy!  There are a few problems with this approach. First, how often do you have room enough on all four (or six, or eight or more) sides of the house to back away far enough to get a clear shot of the entire length?  Can you measure a condo from the interior with this dealio?  How often do you have a full wall without intrusions such as trees and bushes like you see in the video?  Finally, does this little gadget allow you to switch to the traditional, strait-line measuring option when needed?  I did not see that ability in their promotional material.  In other words, you would most likely need two measuring devices if you were going to carry this one.

How do I know about these little nuances if I have never held a Spike before?  I have owned a Disto D810 for several months.  Guess what, it has the same feature that this new device is touting.  In other words, the D810 also allows you to take a photo of the side of a house and come up with a pretty accurate measurement.  It actually works pretty well, but due to the hurdles outlined above, I find myself hardly ever being able to actually use this option.  It is just not practical.  The nice thing about the Disto D810 is that I have so many other options if this one is not feasible.  As far as I can tell, the Spike only has one.

Have any of you tried this unit yet?  Would love to hear your feedback.  Please tell me I am wrong and this is just the best thing since the invention of the smartphone.  I’m dying to be wrong here.

Dustin Harris, Creating ‘Value’ for Real Estate Appraisers

25 thoughts on “Why I do not Hold Much Hope for the New Spike Laser Measuring Tool”

  1. Pingback: Why I do not Hold Much Hope for the New Spike Laser Measuring Tool - Appraisal Buzz

    1. We have purchased this device. We are glad to say, it does work with a lot more cell phones than the caution given, however, I’m working on moving over to my ipad. It is extremely sophisticated and not for the weak of heart; meaning it can do a LOT. In our area, we have a lot of those 2 story or 1.5 story houses where even interior measures don’t give good detail on what’s outside. We’re working on it. I have to state I loose a lot of respect when a review is given without first trying it, I didn’t even finish reading the article!

      1. “I have to state I loose a lot of respect when a review is given without first trying it, I didn’t even finish reading the article!”

        The irony in that sentence is just soooo perfect.

  2. Sorry Dustin – I don’t agree with you – I have been field testing the Spike for a few weeks with three of my appraisers. If you read the instructions and follow them this little device is right on accurate and much easier , less expensive to use than the Disto, which I also have. Even in the inner city with homes close together we have achieved solid measurements.

  3. I have looked at the device also, and like you I have a Disto D810 (which I love). But I do not see this device as being a substitute for me Leica, I certainly do not want to be handling my iPhone 6 + as much as I do with my rugged and waterproof Disto.
    How about doing a tutorial on using the Disto D810? What are your favorite D810 functions?

  4. The Spike doesnt give accurate results when you shoot at angles. Also once you adhere it to your IPhone your married to it. Youll have a hard time removing it. Luckily i had a protective case. Lenny

    1. As the directions state to photo straight on. I have two phone cases now but like I said am trying to move over to the ipad. No problem removing it from my phone.

  5. The Spike website indicates that you get the best measurements if taken when perpendicular to and on the same plain as the surface that you are trying to measure. It does not handle well when shooting from an angle and does not adjust for converging lines that result from increased distance or height. It looks like a fun and interesting toy for those that don’t really care for accuracy. I think I would prefer the accuracy of a Lazer (Disto or equivalent) or tape measure.

  6. I have one that I bought on a half off special for $299. I really like it. It’s much faster than crawling around the house with a Disto in most cases. I have a 12 year old Disto that I use when necessary. I have used the Spike indoors with success. It has some things that could and probably will be improved upon but it’s a solid product. Yes it has a straight line mode too. I will continue to use it. It’s attached to my ipad mini which I only use for appraisals so no need to remove it. It has simply become part of the device.

  7. I just purchased the Spike also. I needed to measure a comp without stepping onto the property. Worked like a charm. Will it work in every situation? No. Is there a device that work in every situation? No. Do we do the best with what we have? Yes. With that said this little guy is now part of my tool box. I use it with my iPhone 5S. No need to adhere it to the case, a simple rubber band holds it in place. When I am done the little device goes back into my bag (with the rubber band). Works for me.

  8. Thanks for posting. this. I bought it on sale at $299 but just have not had the time to even set it up. I am actually either going to have a special case that I use with it or else use Velcro to attach to my iphone. I felt skeptical about the disto too due to the expense and the fact that I buy a lot of gadgets that end up not being useful. Now that I have been using the disto I can’t imagine life without it. The spike seemed too good to pass up at $299.

  9. Dustin,
    Cursors are the little screen gimmicks that tell you where you’re about to type.
    Cursers are appraisers who, e.g., just received stips from an AMC.

    Don’t know anything about the Spike. I’ve found that with a Disto and a little Pythagoras (and maybe a smattering of trig on occasion) I can get any measurement that I need without going belly crawling and mud-wading.

  10. I use ieImpact for my data entry, but they will also draw the sketch for you. I’m curious if anyone having that device could take enough dimensional photos that a third party could draw the sketch for them. It wouldn’t be a time saver for me because I use Total for Mobile which has the embedded photo feature.

  11. Their advertising makes me wonder if they have advance information from Fannie for the next step — cubic volume of heated residential space. First the 1004-MC, then the UAD, now CU — what is the next requirement for more appraiser analysis at lower fees?

    1. Ahh, yes…and then there’s that! Don’t forget about the “Home Valuation Code of Conduct” (HVCC), such a big hit that they essentially supplanted it with the “Appraiser Independence Requirements (AIR), and so on, and so on. But I have to admit, I SO TOTALLY MISS collecting payment of appraisal fees AT THE DOOR, in cash, money order, or sometimes a check (as dictated by careful scrutiny of usually-sub-prime-Borrowers). LOLOL!! Yes, my friends, those WERE the DAYS OF OUR LIVES!!

      “My prediction? CURASP-AIAI…after all…the more letters, the more IMPORTANT the acronym sounds,” Stevo says, sarcastically, as the ever present “dreaming” music starts playing loudly inside his head, and a field of stars starts spinning, rather nebulously, ’round the outside of his old, grey, balding appraiser head. Picture this then, won’t you?…When the world has finally gone STRAIGHT TO HELL and things have just gotten SO VERY DISMAL that NBC finally shrugs its collective shoulders and says: “Oh, what the heck, somebody call Tom Brokaw,…see if maybe he’ll consider coming back to the NBC NIGHTLY NEWS?… After all, we got NOTHING. It CAN’T HURT!”

      HEADLINE (sometime in the VERY NEAR future):
      “Fannie Mae announced today that after processing billions and billions of appraisals, gathered over 30 years by real humans and collectively analyzed in conjunction with their “Collateral Underwriter Residential Appraiser Sunset Program, and the “Artificial Intelligence Algorithm Initiative”, the agency’s top-secret data mining program over that period, that real living/breathing Appraisers will no longer be needed, and their use will be phased out, effectively immediately. Fannie has announced these developments paving the way to the release next year of four revolutionary new products: Virtual Appraiser, Virtual Processor, Virtual Underwriter, and Virtual Loan Officer”…..Geez.

  12. I bought this device to use with an android phone. If you do not have at least a version 4.4 OS, it won’t work. Best accuracy was reported at 92%-95%. Not accurate enough for me. When I tried to line up the points I want measured, the cursor jumped slightly when my finger or stylus was removed from the screen. I even tried using screen mirroring on a 61″ tv, but it did not help. The good news is that you can return it hassle free within 30 days. Love the concept, but this method would be slower than going back to a tape

  13. So, how much time is really saved by high tech? I average 30 minutes on inspections and much of that time is attributed to going slow so I don’t freak out the homeowner. I can do a simple house in less than 10 minutes with a lock box. I can transfer all data manually, including producing a new sketch and dropping in photos in about 5-15 minutes. I’m over 95% paperless. Are we talking seconds, minutes, hours? Do the measuring tools triangulate or do you still have to get next to the house? Do they work through trees and bushes? Do you carry a tape too? Or go back to the car when you cant get a measurement? Do you need to be the guy who goes on 5 inspections a day to make this stuff pay? Very curious. My trainee who wont buy a pair of snow boots went out and bought a $79 Bosch laser tool from Home Depot. Gotta admit I want one for interior stuff, but other than that it appears fairly useless as it wont triangulate and you need something solid to bounce it off. It is accurate to within an inch or two, so that’s ok in most cases. Not dissing here. I am very curious to know if I’m missing the boat or is this just a tech fetish thing.

  14. UPDATE: The good people at IKE-GPS contacted me recently about this blog post. I enjoyed our conversation, and I will be reviewing an actual (hold in the hand) version of Spike soon. For now, I stand by my article above and promise to update you when/if things change. Stay safe, appraisers!

  15. Hi Dustin

    I realize this post is a few months old now but I was wondering if you had a chance to test this product yet, and if so what your verdict was? I have only just discovered this product and am very interested in but would like to hear an opinion from yourself.

    1. Stuart:

      I am sorry, but I have not been contacted by Spike sense our first conversation. They did reach out to me and assured me that they would send me a prototype as soon as the new one was released, but I have not seen anything yet.

  16. The Spike by Ike is one of my favorite gadgets and time savers! I purchased this product from the kickstarter campaign and was thrilled with it from the start! I don’t depend on it as my sole go to measuring tool. I am constantly measuring homes requiring additions and renovations. My method is to sketch up each floor plan, measure interior with a laser and then outside I take out my Spike attach it to my iphone and take snapshots all around the house. I love it! I used to go around the exterior and take all the heights, grades, trim details but after starting with Spike it has never been necessary! The outside of a house is surveyed in literally 10 minutes so no suffering in the cold or rain. The accuracy is good enough for this exterior work. I put it on my list of favorite items in my toolbox! https://www.aricgitomerarchitect.com/publications/

  17. I recall reading something about using Spke with ESRI Collector to determine locations of distant objects – you know, the old range, azimuth, and inclination calculation problem from a known point.
    Has anyone considered the accuracy (or lack thereof) of a smartphone compass app?
    Take a look at “tru-path.org” with its associated posts to see real accuracy tests of smartphone compass apps – and a couple real laser rangefinders. These posts prove how inaccurate smartphone compass apps really are; but the posts also prove the compass errors can be corrected – sometime in the near future.

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