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RoomScan app creates floor plans just by tapping walls

Turn your iPhone into a magic tape measure with this surprisingly adept tool.

Locometric Ltd

Shopping for furniture? Need to figure out how much paint you need for a living-room makeover? Planning to sell your house? These and other activities can benefit greatly from having a floor plan, but who's got time to draw one?

You do. RoomScan for iOS creates floor plans just by tapping your phone or tablet against each wall. It's not accurate down to the millimeter, but it does work -- and surprisingly well at that.

I tested the app with an iPhone 4S. Right from the start, illustrated and voice-enhanced instructions tell you what to do. The process basically amounts to picking a start wall, waiting a few seconds until it's "scanned," then moving onto the next wall. Wash, rinse, and repeat until you've come around to the second wall a second time.

And that's it! The app then draws a simple floor-plan, complete with measurements and square-footage calculations. (By default, it uses meters, but it's simple enough to switch over to feet.) It did a pretty accurate job in my living room, which has a bay window.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Still, RoomScan doesn't claim to be ultraprecise: the app calculates to the nearest half a foot, so you'll still need a tape measure if you want exacting figures. But if you're just trying to figure out, say, where to place furniture or you want to provide prospective buyers with a general layout, there's no quicker solution. And you can manually edit wall measurements just by tapping one.

Although the free version handles the basics pretty well, you'll probably want to splurge on RoomScan Pro ($4.99), which lets you add doors as you perform your wall-scans and automatically stitches rooms together after the fact.

I can see where carpenters, builders, real estate agents, and family handymen would find RoomScan extremely helpful. While you're at it, be sure to check out these five other killer apps for your tool belt.