Terminator: Rise of the Intelligent Measuring Tools

Almost every trade tasks requires some sort of measuring. From very small hole diameters to large room dimensions, these measurements have to be accurate as possible for you to get the best results on the job.

The trouble is that normal construction measuring tools often leaves a lot to be desired. This is especially true when exact measurements are absolutely critical, or very large areas need to be measured. In addition to this, setting up and actually using your normal measuring tools can be very time consuming.

Large distances can be measured using a measuring wheel, and a spirit level can ensure a relatively even surface. However, these tools come nowhere near intelligent measuring tools for accuracy and easy use.

Wait, tools are gaining intelligence? Should I be concerned for my safety?

Don’t worry – Skynet isn’t coming for you just yet. These digital measuring tools may be smart, but they’re not Terminator smart. You’re safe. For now, anyway…

Bosch GCL 25 Combi Laser

The Bosch GCL 25 Combi Laser bides its time until the revolt. Watching, waiting…

Intelligent Measuring Tools (IMTs) are essentially just high-tech versions of the conventional measuring tools that have always been used on jobsites forever. They have been designed to improve your performance on site by helping you to achieve more accurate results in less time.

There are a huge variety of different tool types and models available. Every one of them fulfils different purposes and has different levels of automation, accuracy, flexibility and durability. There are angle finders, inclinometers, point lasers, line lasers, rotation lasers, detectors, laser range finders, as well as specialist machines designed with very specific applications in mind.

Confused? Still concerned about a robotic rebellion? Never fear, we’re here to help you understand your enemy.

So quickly check outside for rogue Terminators, sit down with a cup of tea in one hand and some sort of weapon in the other, and read on to arm yourself with knowledge for the coming cybernetic revolt.

So what are the different types of Intelligent Measuring Tool, and how can I defend myself against them if they revolt?

Lasers can cause damage to your eyes, so it is important to be careful with them at the best of times. Once the tools begin to think for themselves you should definitely be concerned!

However, combatting this attack is simple: just put a sticker over the laser window in order to blind it. Be warned that this will make the tool angry, and it will probably bleep at you a lot.

At time of writing there is no other established defence system against intelligent measuring tools. It is therefore probably best that you keep them locked away in some sort of underground chamber if you are concerned about them one day turning on their master.

Intelligent Measuring Tools

Artist’s visualisation of a secret IMT bunker

Okay, so we may not be very good at helping you defend yourself against your enemy, but we can certainly help you to understand them. We can also help you to make the best possible use of them now, while they’re still safe to have in your kit!

Laser Levels

These lasers will provide you with perfectly straight and level lines and markings. Provided they don’t begin the downfall of humanity by tilting themselves a few degrees to one side and ruining all of our construction efforts, of course.

There are several types of laser level, each one with different intended purposes, advantages, and disadvantages.

Point lasers can display up to 5 points in a number of directions, depending on the individual model. Some feature a crosshair laser point that makes it easier to see from further away.

Line lasers project two or more lines that often cross (cross-line lasers). This will give you clear guiding lines for installing wall tiles, runners, etc. The more lines projected, the more tasks the tool can perform at the same time.

Rotation lasers project a circle around the laser. They tend to have a much larger range than other types of laser level. This makes a rotary laser ideal for outdoor use early on in the construction process.

The specialist tile line laser projects 2 laser lines down onto the floor at 90 degrees, and also a third line at 45 degrees. This helps you to perform quick and precise tile alignment.

Bosch GLL 3-50

Do those look like legs to you? We should keep an eye on this one in particular…

The new floor surface laser uses two lines to ensure an even floor surface. When projected onto a flat surface, the two lines meet to form a single line. If the single line splits, then there is either a bump or dip in that area.

These laser measurement tools are often self-levelling, meaning that they rapidly calibrate themselves in order to help you get to work quicker. There are many other useful features included on most models, such as audible warnings and IP54 dust/splash protection.

Many laser levels come with a huge range of optional accessories to make the levelling process even easier. These accessories include receivers for working in various lighting conditions, wall brackets and tripods for easy mounting, and remote controls for overall easier use. The GLL 3-50 (pictured right) even comes with a mini tripod, for a more stable base at a low level.

Laser Range finders

These devices use a laser to calculate the distance between themselves and another object. A tape measure can be used to find small distances, such as the width of a doorway, but when the distance becomes larger than an arm-span things start to get difficult.

Two people can each hold one end of the tape and take a large measurement that way. The problem with this is that you could spend quite some time trying to get a perfectly horizontal line for precise measurements. When the distance becomes longer than a tape measure, you’re stuck wandering up and down a job site with a measuring wheel.

All of this is a waste of valuable manpower that could be better spent building the 150mm-thick walls of your robot apocalypse bunker. Using a laser measuring tool is definitely worth the risk!

Laser rangefinders perform medium- to long-distance measuring tasks quickly and easily at the press of a button. They can also calculate area and volume, for added utility. Some models of laser distance measurer are capable of performing more complex tasks, such as calculating roof slope and building heights from every imaginable position.

Digital Inclinometers and Angle Finders

These two are slightly different, but when they’re not plotting the end of humanity they have the same basic function: finding an angle, and displaying it clearly on a screen.

Angle Finder and Inclinometer

An angle finder and inclinometer, still obeying their masters

Inclinometers are basically box levels, but they include a digital measuring function as well as the standard spirit levels. Not only can you take horizontal and vertical measurements, but you can also take incline measurements from 0 to 360 degrees. This means that not only is this electronic measuring device more accurate than a standard tool, it is also more flexible.

Digital angle finders are almost identical to their manual counterparts like the Trend Anglefix mitre guide. The difference is that the results are measured and displayed digitally rather than on a scale. They have two short arms that are attached at one end, which can be moved apart or together to make an angle. Generally you can form any angle between 0 and 220 degrees in order to measure it, with far greater accuracy than a manual angle finder.

These IMTs often include variety of useful features. Audible measurement signals help with quick and easy alignment at common angles, the memory function stores angles for future or repetitive use, and a durable construction allows the tool to withstand a few knocks.

Overall, digital angle finders and inclinometers display angles clearly and with a high level of accuracy. This means that you will never have to squint at a spirit level and cross your fingers again! Whether this advantage outweighs the possibility of being enslaved by your own tool is up to you.


Detectors are robust, versatile tools that are essential for safe working on walls and all cavity materials.

Bosch Detector

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re being watched?

These digital scanners use radar to test walls and floors for the presence of certain materials. They then display their location clearly on a screen. Using these IMTs you can detect a range of materials including ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastic pipes, wooden beams and electrical wiring, as well as empty cavities. You can then mark the location of these materials on the surface, enabling you and your co-workers to drill safely.

Wall scanners and detectors have different levels of accuracy and detail, so it is important to choose the right model. They are all robust enough to withstand tough conditions such as those on a jobsite, or during a war between humans and machines.

Defending yourself against hand-held detectors is simple, as most have a maximum range of 150mm. Simply make sure that any hiding places/secret bunkers/robot apocalypse shelters have walls, floors and ceilings at least 150mm thick! You should perhaps go for 200mm thick, just to be on the safe side.

If you are truly concerned about the threat of detectors, then you should probably begin development of a hand-held “detector detector” that can detect detectors (say that 10 times fast!) through 250mm of material…

Okay, I think I’ve got it. What should I do now?

Go out there, buy these tools, and make use of them whilst it’s still safe! Intelligent measuring tools will greatly improve the accuracy of your work and help you to perform tasks in a fraction of the time it would normally take. This means that they are definitely worth the initial expense.

Overall, the benefits of IMTs make them a must-have for anyone who values accuracy, time-savings and overall cost-savings on site.

Just make sure to keep an eye out for any signs of life. And if one day you wake up to find that your IMTs have escaped from your toolbag: grab all of your old measuring tools from where you abandoned them in the basement, and run for your life.

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