The presence of Bluetooth LE/4.0 in the latest generations of smartphones and tablets has let to an explosion of hardware/sensor add-ons that extend the capabilities of the mobile devices we all now carry around with us.
The low power wireless transfer tech is also allowing for full digital devices to be re-conceived as smartphone add-ons — leveraging the phone’s processing power and larger, colour touchscreen display to support improved performance and capabilities.
Here’s the latest example: an updating of the digital multimeter, called the Mooshimeter, that brings circuit testing abilities to your smartphone in app form.
What’s the point of upgrading from the standard digital multimeter to a wireless box that works as an extension of your smartphone? There are several advantages, according to Mooshimeter’s makers.
Firstly, going wireless means you don’t have to be tethered to the item whose circuits you’re testing — so you can test from further away (up to 150 feet away, depending on what’s between you and the Mooshimeter), which may be more convenient or safer. It’s also easier to test electronics that are moving around.
The traditional digital multimeter also usually requires the user to switched between modes, making it harder to track relationships in an active system — unless you start using multiple multimeters. And even if you do that you’re still having to monitor multiple displays to figure out what’s going on. The Mooshimeter maps all the activity on a single display; i.e. your phone’s screen.
And boy does it look good. Out with plain old LCD numbers, in with gorgeous real-time graphs.
And not having to incorporate a display on the device itself (being as your phone is the display and the interface hardware) has allowed Mooshimeter’s makers to spend on upping the measurement resolution — so the device has a 24-bit ADC, which is higher than a lot of standalone multimeters.
This gives you up to 7 digits to work with, though for most measurements expect 5-6 noise free digits. Combined with the graphing capability of your smartphone, this allows you to pick up the smallest and most subtle signals.
There’s also a slot on the Mooshimeter for a microSD card, with support for up to 32GB, so the device can log data for months, i.e. rather than you having to hang out next your multimeter making notes.
And that’s just a few of the advantages of transferring multimeter functionality from a standalone digital device to wireless hardware-plus-software (more on the advantages here). In short, you’re getting an altogether smart(er) multimeter.
The Mooshimeter remains a prototype for now, albeit one that has been put through its paces by a network of testers. Mooshimeter’s makers have taken to Dragon Innovation, the specialist hardware crowdfunding platform, to raise funds to get the device to market.
They have already passed their funding goal of $52,000 — with more than $71,500 raised at the time of writing, and another 13 days left on their campaign.
The device costs $99 to crowdfunding backers, and will retail for $120 after the campaign. The aim is to ship to backers in August.
As the Internet of Things starts cooking, more developers are going to have to start playing around with hardware — making a multimeter an everyday tool for more of you guys. So this smart updating of the multimeter is pretty timely. Happy measuring.