Got a home improvement project coming up, but don’t want to spend a small fortune on the tools and equipment you need to get the job done? Check out this fresh new line of smart power tools from Ryobi. Each tool is designed to work with your smartphone and leverage the high-tech components it’s already got inside (high-resolution touchscreen display, motion processing, HD camera, motion processing, microphone, etc), so despite being incredibly powerful and easy to use, the tools themselves are fairly low tech and inexpensive.
The Phone Works line, as they call it, features a slew of different testing and measuring tools that plug into your Android or iOS phone via the headphone jack. There’s a laser level, laser distance finder, infrared thermometer, stud finder, moisture meter, inspection scope, and even a pair of noise-suppressing headphones — all of which work with Ryobi’s accompanying smartphone app to provide extra functionality.
Take the laser level, for example. Plug this tool into your phone, and it’ll use your phone’s accelerometers and onboard motion processing abilities to project a perfectly level crosshair onto your wall. With the app, you can also use the Angle Finder function to set custom laser angles for when you’re dealing with an uneven playing field.
Similarly, the infrared thermometer clips onto your phone and works in conjunction with your phone’s existing camera to display a thermal map of whatever you’re pointing it at. In a lot of ways it’s similar to the Flir TG165 imaging thermometer and others like it, but Ryobi’s device uses a visual image – instead of IR – for targeting and measurement logging. And of course, since Ryobi leans on your smartphone and doesn’t have to build a big LCD screen and advanced image processing into the device, this little gizmo is drastically cheaper than most standalone infrared thermometers.
Another awesome addition to the Phone Works lineup is Ryobi’s noise-suppressing headphones. In addition to both active and passive noise canceling, these little earbuds can work with your phone’s microphone to selectively filter out certain noises (the whine of a circular saw, for example) and amplify other ones (other people’s voices and conversations).