Digital Caliper Talks For Accessibility, With This App

A good instrument stays with its owner for a lifetime, becoming part of their essential trusted toolkit to be consulted as a matter of habit. If you use a caliper to measure dimensions  you’ll know this, and a quick glance at its scale or digital display will be second nature. But if you aren’t fortunate enough to have the eyesight to see the caliper, then it’s off-limits, and that’s something [Naomi Wu] has addressed with her open-source accessible speaking caliper app. It’s an Android app that connects to digital calipers that contain Bluetooth connectivity, and as well as speaking aloud the caliper reading it also displays it in very large text on the device screen. As well as the source link from which you can build the app, it’s available for installation directly from the Google Play Store.

If you’re used to [Naomi] from her video tours of the electronics businesses in her native Shenzhen, her eye-catching wearable projects, or her exploits with an industrial CNC machine in her living room, you might be interested to know that aside from this app she’s been a long-time proponent of open-source in China. She was responsible among other projects for the Sino:bit educational computer board, which holds the distinction for her of having secured the first ever Chinese OSHWA certification.

You can see the caliper app in action below the break.

37 thoughts on “Digital Caliper Talks For Accessibility, With This App

  1. I don’t think this is a ‘real’ android app – that’s sarcasm for you non aussies – as it doesn’t ask for every permission that is possible on my phone. It doesn’t need access to my contacts. It doesn’t need to make calls. It doesn’t need data on… It doesn’t need location services…. There must be something wrong with it… :-)

    Does anyone have a bluetooth caliper they can recommend?

  2. Hadn’t realised there were digital calipers with bluetooth, but while checking up on availability (scarce) and pricing (expensive) i found this article on instructables where a bluetooth interface is added to mitutoyo equipment with a data connector:
    It would be great if [Naomi] could persuade the manufacturer of thos cheap digital caliper and have them add bluetooth by default. I am sure that given the choice you would pay the extra bucks for the one with added bluetooth.
    Off course the cheap ones are no replacement for the real precision intstruments, but i am sure we all have one for grabs lying around. For the real work i still love to use my “analogue” mitutoyo which belonged to my dad, so there is double fun in using it,

      1. thanks Naomi, I’ll see if I can find that one locally. One of the problems we have had is that all the stuff from os seems to be having problems getting into Australia – ie it is getting out of china (as my tracking numbers show it landing in Aus) but then just sits there.. Last few things I got took 3 months (I’m not joking!) to do the last few kms… The whole internal supply chain in Aus is stuffed because of the virus…

      1. Also in dark environments or situations where you have to reach inside to determine, say, a hose diameter without disassembly or in reverse engineering situations. I have to check my measurements more than three times in those situations because i often bump the calipers extracting it.

        1. Zeo device.
          Take measurement.
          Zero again – carefully not to move.
          Remove Caliper.
          Close anvil and voila your reading.
          Ignore the sign.
          Intuition of your device zero button location required.

          1. Two foot calipers. Shaft is 18 inches down in a slot. Measuring parts you can see for a replacement motor in a functional 50s era gear hobber that you get one shot at pulling the motor. This was 15 years ago. You are basically remote waldoing it here.

        2. I agree, this is useful to people with full sight, as you can use it both in low light and when you don’t want to take your eyes of something.

          I sometime think that Naomi doesn’t get the respect she should because of the silicon, but I think we should look past that. Though I hope one day she gets them removed, both for health reasons and the fact she would still look pretty good – if not better — without them anyway.

          1. Naomi did get rid of the silicone, one of her implants bursted and in turn she got larger saline implants.

            There is a reason she had the breast enlargement that is very personal and it positively improved her self image which is a good thing.

            I think she’s beautiful with them and she was beautiful without them. But it’s not about what we think, it’s about how she feels and sees herself.

          2. I was using ‘silicon’ in the wider sense (as I know about the burst), and yes, I understand, but I think it will be just good (for her) if she gets to the point that she doesn’t need them any more. And she will get to the point where they will just be holding her back from being treated seriously – which I agree isn’t right! – if she isn’t at that point already.

      2. I support those with disabilities being accommodated to do the same jobs as those without disabilities, the disability shouldn’t matter.

        In this case, however- legally blind & QC engineer? How exactly does that work? How can someone who can’t distinguish features well enough be left in charge of quality control- where you need to see visually work defects? I assume they had other assistants? Perhaps they have a lot of specialized training on critcal things like nondestructive training, and other specialized testing protocols, but were gradually just losing their sight and needed a hand.

        I applaud the project intent- just wondering how that actually works, not trying to be an ass- honestly curious.

          1. That is absolutely astounding. I’ll be honest, though I have people in my own family with mental and physical handicaps who proved to me long ago it shouldn’t matter- I never could have imagined how this would work.

            But that is damn inspiring. She prints 3d models of machine centers as a hobby- the industry I work in in western PA at least doesn’t deserve someone with this much passion for the field.

            It’s really impressive and cool to see that yes, even a legally blind individual can indeed do this job if they are properly equipped and motivated enough.

            I’m considering getting into prosthetics away from traditional manufacturing, because I like the idea of helping people with my skills directly. This is the second example I’ve seen in a week of technology helping someone like this, the other was an engineer who made his own ridiculously awesome mechanical hand when he lost all his fingers.

            How does VR exactly work for her here? is this model directly patched into a bypassed optic nerve, ala Ghost In The Shell? Or does it just massively adapt and correct 3d focus for what vision she has already? Not clear from article.

            These calipers could allow someone blind from birth to actually tactily design real objects, and build- it’s limited use, sure- but really cool. I wonder if there would be a way to adapt output display to VR directly, kinda like a Yuriy’s Toys DRO app for VR?

        1. Also some things could be glaringly obvious to a person who is blind, as much as sighted people might think something is glaringly obvious when you’re sighted, but hard to tell by other than visual means. For example, people who are blind develop mental mapping skills very highly, because if they forget where a chair usually is, they’ll fall over it. Such skills can be applied to a PCB such that if one tiny C or R is unpopulated, they can tell just by running their fingers across once. A task that might take a sighted person a while as it’s a “can’t see the wood for the trees” problem on a dense board.

          Also they develop high sensitivity in the fingertips, and might detect a ridge or mould line or other discontinuity, that it would take much squinting and holding to the right angle to the light for sighted people to notice.

  3. I like the idea of using a mobile phone app for instances where I’m at a desk taking measurements. However, I wouldn’t want to subject my phone to the grit and grime out in the shop.

    I was fortunate to score one of these units a few years ago. Nice big wireless read-out and a display that I can put just about anywhere. No more gymnastics required to take some of the measurements.

  4. wow…Good Job Naomi. To those who are saying you don’t believe this is useful, imagine if it was YOU losing the ability to see. Besides, a human being can adapt for anything, given the right tools. I know a guy who is fully sighted, but closes his eyes and feels along a car body when doing body work. He can feel the slightest dip or peak…I can’t see it till he highlights it with contrasting primers. Just because you can’t see the usefulness doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Any tools worth is in the hands of the user.

  5. Off Topic:
    A couple weeks ago at a yard sale I bought a meter long digital Mitotoyo caliper (551-227-50) with case.
    (when I got home I saw that there is corrosion on the circuit board near the battery, Mitotoyo no longer carries a replacement part. One of these days I’ll open it up to see if it can be repaired.)

  6. Editors:
    Please add “digital calipers” to the tag list.

    (I was just searching for “digital calipers” and it didn’t show up in the results. FWIW, “Naomi calipers” is how I did find it! B^)

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