I admit it: I love gadgets and precision devices of all kinds. Cameras, firearms, wood- and metal-working tools fascinate me to the point where a major room addition is the only solution to our collective space problem.
Antique measuring tools--including mariner's sextants--are often works of art and command high prices. But when it comes to measuring a room for new carpeting or planning an addition, nothing beats the latest wrinkle in measuring, the pocket-size Measure Mate electronic tapeless tape.
Tapeless tape? Yep, the eight-ounce device uses an ultrasonic measuring system--not unlike the one on certain models of Polaroid cameras--transmitting sound waves that bounce off an obstruction in their path and return as echoes. The unit calculates the distance by measuring the length of time the echo takes to return, displaying the results in feet and inches.
I tested a Measure Mate from Microtech Marketing Inc., 9215 S.W. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Portland, Ore. 97225, and found that it was accurate for the vast majority of measuring tasks. A contractor friend confirmed the accuracy with his steel tape and pronounced the Measure Mate a handy if somewhat expensive device at just under $100. He also questioned its survivability in the typically rough use that a contractor would give it.