In the early 2000s, Leon Toorenburg was in Africa mapping the locations of communications and utility towers. He was carrying a laser range finder, a camera, a GPS receiver, a laptop, and a field stick. It occurred to him that there had to be an easier way.
So he created IKE, a product that combines the first three of those devices, enabling the user to “rectify a photo using a hand-held device and measure features within that photo,” says James Pardue, senior vice president of sales at ikeGPS. IKE was adopted by utilities and by defense and intelligence agencies.
However, an IKE unit sells for about $11,000 and requires maintenance and training. Toorenburg’s next step was to create a much cheaper and simpler version that would “create an opportunity for millions of new people to collect information that up until then was just in the realm of expert users.”
That effort led to the Spike, which is priced at $500. It has a laser range finder with a 650 ft. range, attaches to a smart phone with a clamp, and connects to it via Bluetooth.