5 Accessories That Can Turn Your Smartphone into a Powerful Tool for Construction

FLIR One Pro

FLIR One Pro

Smartphones have replaced a lot of different objects and materials on today’s construction site.  They’re used for pictures, video and audio recording, and note taking, among many other uses.  Beyond the typical functions most phones already have incorporated within them, there is now a significant market of accessories designed to make your phone even more useful on the construction jobsite.

We’ve compiled a list of 5 different accessories that you can buy to further enhance the power of your smartphone for construction.

1. The FLIR One Thermal Imaging Attachment

There are many good reasons for construction professionals to own and use a thermal imaging camera, especially to diagnose issues and ensure proper installation, but historically thermal imagers have been not only bulky, but extremely costly. FLIR has been a leader in the thermal imaging department for quite a while and they have developed a cost efficient and convenient attachment for Android phones or iPhones.

The FLIR One Pro is one of their most recent releases, which retails for $399 and can measure temperatures from -4 – 284°F. One of the most important upgrades that the Pro included was the ability on the phone even with bulky Otterbox for LifeProof cases attached.

The FLIR ONE Pro is currently available on Amazon for a discounted price of $342 for Android and $373.30 for iPhone.  Be sure to double check that it will be compatible with the model of your phone prior to purchasing.

Check out the video below to find out more:

2. The Walabot DIY In-Wall Imager

Walabot DIY is a smartphone attachment that lets you see what’s lurking behind walls. There are obviously other machines that can do this, but this is the first that we know about that is as convenient as carrying your phone. 

Currently only able to run on Android devices, Walabot senses pipes of both plastic and metal, electrical wire, and studs behind up to 4 inches of cement and drywall.  The device uses magnets to connect to the back of your phone and a micro-USB cord to transmit the data to the app on your phone.

To try it for yourself, you can grab it on Amazon for $99.90. Reviews have been generally mixed, with most people stating that it has a definite learning curve.

3. Augmented Reality Tape Measure

While there are some physical attachments available to turn your phone into a measurement device, iOS 11 has all but made them obsolete.  With the release of the updated software, Apple users can harness the abilities their phones already has and allow users to add measurements onto pictures in real time using the phone’s camera.

I don’t expect these apps to replace a contractor’s traditional tape measure or even a slightly less traditional laser measure, but it could be a useful tool for quick budgeting purposes or for reference.

There are a couple different app makers who make this possible, including Air Measure, which is free, and TapMeasure, which will only cost you $1.99. 

4. WiFi Inspection Camera

When diagnosing issues or performing remodels, it’s not always clear what’s behind an obstruction or inside of a pipe, so inspection cameras can be extremely useful.  If you don’t need several hundred feet of line to determine why a plumbing line is clogged, a smartphone inspection camera may prove useful to you.

The New WIFI Endoscope Inspection Camera is compatible with Android, iOS, Mac, and PC and provides either 720P or 1080P resolution.  It does require an internet connection to work, but connects to your device wirelessly.

With an IP67 rating, it’s built to withstand dusty and wet conditions.  For dark areas, 6 adjustable LED lights will provide illumination.  The wire lengths vary in size, up to 5 meters, which will make prices vary.

You can get a 5 meter length 720P inspection camera on Amazon for $31.99, but not much is known about the company that makes them. Special thank you to Alex Barthet from the Lien Zone for bringing this to our attention!

Below is a fairly long review of the inspection camera mentioned above by GuruBrew if you’d like to see how it performs in a few different situations:

5. Stockpile Reports - Calculate Tonnage and Volume of On Site Stockpiles

Typically, calculating the amount of materials in your on-site stockpiles is either extremely time consuming or a guesstimate.  Allow your smartphone to take over that process with Stockpile Reports.

Stockpile Reports can not only use your smartphone to calculate tonnage and volume of your stockpiles, but you can also use a drone or plane to get the data.

There are two different applications available to perform these tasks: a lite version for measuring stockpiles that are 4,000 cubic yards or less ($5 for each measurement, $19/month) and a Pro version with unlimited users and measurements ($4,800/year to $42,000+ per year depending on the amount of piles).

The app is only available for the iPhone and simply works by placing two orange cones 25 feet away from each other and then walking the full perimeter of the stockpile. Check out the process below: