This weekend I found the heights of some trees in the knoll so I did some research to better understand how exactly a hypsometer works. Modern hypsometers like the TruPulse model we use in the lab fire a laser to establish a triangle then use trigonometry to calculate the exact height of the tree from angles and lines of this triangle. Three laser shots are made; first to establish the distance to the tree, next to the base of the tree, then to the top of the tree. Using the angles at top and bottom of the tree and distance we can calculate the tangent and then height of the tree. Also in my research I looked up the price range for a hypsometer and a possible method around this. The TruPulse models we use the lab start at $750, but I found an app called smart measure from Google that can be downloaded to a smart phone for $0.99. This app might be worth testing for a cheaper method of tree height data collection that more people could have access to.  

Image from:

Link to Trupulse hypsometer:

Link to Smart Measure:

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Comment by Jonathan Dandois on April 15, 2013 at 8:29am

Sounds pretty neat Darryl, looks like there is a free version too, perhaps the $0.99 version is ad free.  I could download it to my phone and let you test it out.

Comment by Andrew Daniel Jablonski on April 15, 2013 at 8:53am

Jonathan and I just did a quick comparison test in the hallway. The thing is giving essentially the same measurements as our hypsometer. Wow!

Comment by Darryl Wise Jr. on April 15, 2013 at 2:31pm

I also downloaded the free version and will test it versus the labs hypsometer on my next trip outside. 

Comment by Darryl Wise Jr. on April 16, 2013 at 2:01pm

Unfortunately the Smart Measure app assumes you are standing on a flat plane and without a zoom function I could only get it to reach a distance of 15 meters before it could not detect any farther (read MAX as distance). Although this is an interesting tool it ultimately won't serve the functionality we need in a forest setting. 


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