Leica HDS worldwide user conference

Leica Geosystems 2010 HDS Worldwide User Conference – Day 1

The conference kicked off this morning with some great presentations including a live preview of Cyclone 7.2 and its new pcE high speed visualization engine.

Some of the more interesting presentations today also included:

– Explosion Dynamics Research/Forensic Investigations using HDS, presented bu Dr. John DeHaan, FireEx Forensics
– Ken Smerz, Kovach Construction/Precision 3D Scanning, gave an excellent presentation on the benefits of laser scanning for the precise fabrication of complex wall systems.
– Alan Barrow, ABA Surveying, showed how he is using 3 HDS6000’s, a LandINS IMU and Javad GNSS mounted on the back of a van for near survey-grade mobile scanning.
– Luncheon keynote updating us on the status of the Mt. Rushmore CyArk project was given by Liz Lee and Doug Pritchard. They showed some remarkable images of the project.
– Zebra Imaging is displaying their latest high-resolution, full-color holographic prints in their booth. They have some great examples of full-color point clouds and detailed Building Information Models.

The day ended with a great social evening of food and bocce at Campo di Bocce Ristorante & Bar.

We are looking forward to more great presentations over the next couple of days. Be sure to follow us at www.twitter.com/scanable for live updates throughout the event.

FARO Introduces the Focus3D

FARO Introduces the Focus3D – the Smallest and Lightest 3D Laser Scanner Ever Built

LAKE MARY, Fla., Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ — FARO Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: FARO), the world’s leading provider of portable measurement and imaging solutions, introduces the new FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D.

Focus3D is a revolutionary, high-performance 3D laser scanner for detailed measurement and documentation with intuitive touch screen control that makes it as easy to operate as a digital camera. It is four times lighter and five times smaller than its predecessor and is the smallest and lightest laser scanner ever built.

Focus3D uses laser technology to produce incredibly detailed three-dimensional images of complex environments and geometries in only a few minutes. The resulting image is an assembly of millions of 3D measurement points in color which provides an exact digital reproduction of existing conditions.

The new FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D is suitable for documentation of large environments, quality control of components and reverse engineering. Thanks to its millimeter-accuracy and its 976,000 measurement points/second, the Focus3D offers the most efficient and precise method for measurement and three-dimensional documentation of building construction, excavation volumes, façade and structural deformations, crime scenes, accident sites, product geometry, factories, process plants and more.

The Focus3D is entirely self-contained, meaning no additional devices, cables or laptop are needed. With its dimensions of 9.5 x 8 x 4 in. and a weight of 11lbs, the Focus3D is so compact and mobile that users can always take it with them, wherever they go.

Focus3D deploys an integrated color camera with automatic and parallax free color overlay for photo-realistic 3D scans. Its integrated lithium-ion high-performance battery provides up to five hours of battery life and can be charged during operation. Furthermore, all scans are stored on a SD card enabling easy and secure data transfer to a computer.

The FARO Focus3D is compatible with many common software applications. The flexible interfaces of SCENE, the scan processing software included with the Focus3D, enable connection to AutoCAD as well as many other CAD applications such as Rhino, Microstation, Nemetschek and ArchiCAD.

FARO has changed the game with all the improvements and features of the new Focus3D, eclipsing anything offered in the marketplace and reducing the package size by 50%. Instead of pricing the technology accordingly, FARO has dropped the price by half that of any current laser scanning system.

“With the revolutionary Focus3D, FARO provides architects, civil engineers and plant designers with an efficient tool for rapid, seamless and precise documentation of the current status of buildings, plants and construction sites of every kind. The Focus3D offers advanced functionality through a simple user interface and expands the user base beyond the expert, moving phase shift laser scanning across the technology chasm,” stated Jay Freeland, FARO’s Chief Executive Officer.

About FARO

FARO develops and markets computer-aided coordinate measurement devices and software. Portable equipment from FARO permits high-precision 3D measurement and comparison of parts and compound structures within production and quality assurance processes. The devices are used for inspecting components and assemblies, production planning, inventory documentation, as well as for investigation and reconstruction of accident sites or crime scenes. They are also employed to generate digital scans of historic sites.

Worldwide, approximately 10,000 customers are operating more than 20,000 installations of FARO’s systems. The company’s global headquarters is located in Lake Mary, Florida, with its European head office in Stuttgart, Germany and its Asia/Pacifichead office in Singapore. FARO has branch locations in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Netherlands, India, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan.

SOURCE FARO Technologies, Inc.

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FARO will launch a revolution in 3D at Intergeo 2010

FARO Technologies, a provider of portable 3D measurement and imaging solutions, says it will launch “revolutionary” 3D laser scanner technology at Intergeo 2010.

FARO will launch a revolution in 3D at Intergeo 2010“The time has come for a dramatic reinvention of 3D laser scanning by offering the most user friendly and easiest to handle scanner at a very affordable price,” explains Bernd Becker, director of product management and business development 3D Laser Scanner at FARO. “At Intergeo FARO will present a new revolutionary 3D laser scanner technology which makes 3D laser scanning available to a much larger audience.”

FARO will also demonstrate version 4.7 of SCENE which incorporates the new “one-click” Web-Share functionality. The SCENE Web-Share feature allows for easy and secure sharing of scan data via the internet. Scanned images can now be put on the internet by just a click of a button, thus enabling users to share scan information with their customers, suppliers and partners without the need of additional software.

FARO offers efficient modelling for the areas of architecture, civil engineering, tunnelling, heritage, product design, and process industry due to its software partner achievements, with one of the most important named as the new point cloud engine of AutoCad 2011.

Michael Richards
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Google Maps Street View 2.0 [LiDAR]

Brian Ussery is reporting that Google is back in Atlanta, GA making Street View images for Google Maps but, this time they brought in the big guns. Beu Blog reported on April 28, 2010, “The cars here today are equipped with GPS, high resolution panoramic cameras and multiple SICK sensors. These sensors collect LiDAR data that can be used for 3D imaging and visualizations like that seen in Radiohead’s recent “House of Cards” music video. Google Earth and SketchUp, Google’s 3D virtual building maker for Maps also use this type of data.

Last week Google announced the release of a plugin which allows users access to Google Earth imagery via Maps. As a result it’s now possible to view 3d images in Google Maps. The problem here is fairly obvious, Google Earth’s aerial imagery is taken from above and as a result not from the same perspective as users interacting with the data. Not to worry though, the StreetView team has been working on these kinds of problems for some time. When it comes to Navigation, Maps or StreetView, earthbound LiDAR enhanced imagery processed via Sketchup seems like a perfect complement to Google’s existing view from above. Combining high resolution imagery taken from the user’s perspective with advanced 3D image technology, presents some new possibilities to say the least. Factor in new releases like business ads in Maps, now being available in 3D on your mobile device and it’s pretty clear how Sketchup will be monetized.”

It is expected that Google’s incorporation of LiDAR into their mapping efforts will lead to some significant changes to our industry. If you have not previously seen the “House of Cards” video, be sure to check out the interactive music video code to see how Google made the point cloud data readily available for manipulation in a standard web browser. Point clouds are finally becoming more natively accepted in most CAD platforms and with Google getting involved in the industry, who knows where we will be in the near future.

Create Floor Plans Automatically from 3D Point Clouds [Point-Cab]

SCANable is evaluating this promising new software and will follow-up with an indepth review in the coming days. In the meantime, please feel free to check it out for yourself and leave your input here.

Automatic analysis and interpretation of laser scanning data

  • Floor plans, views and sectional views are created at the push of a button.
  • Program offers an intuitive user interface (no training required).
  • For the first time, results can be processed in almost all CAD programs.
  • Visual representations allow a direct use and will dramatically reduce time needed for analysis and modeling.

Point-Cab is the first application that automatically creates―at the push of a button―floor plans and sectional views. The goal of the development team has been to create an extremely user-friendly interface design.

The program creates a visual representation of laser scanning data. The result has much more expressiveness and validity than individual points of point clouds. Images and representations of sections are a prerequisite for an easy modeling in CAD programs.

The program supports most of the common CAD programs and construction tools through standard interfaces. You may use the results in ArchiCAD, Google SketchUp, Revit and other tools.

Point-Cab product videos

Get to the video:

Creation of a floor plan at the push of a button

Get to the video:

Sectional views created from laser scanning data

Point-Cab supports several CAD programs, such as:

    • AutoCAD
    • ArchiCAD
    • Microstation
    • SketchUp

Point-Cab Layout supports the following laser scanner formats:

    • PTX exchange format
    • FARO laser scanner
    • Riegl laser scanner (available soon)

Examples of use

Point-Cab Layout transfers laser scanning data into AutoCAD (available soon)

Point-Cab transfers laser scanning data into ArchiCAD (available soon)

Point-Cab transfers laser scanning data into Microstation (available soon)

Point-Cab transfers laser scanning data into SketchUp

Point-Cab Layout trial version

Find out for yourself why this revolutionary program can make such a difference for you.Click here to download the Point-Cab trial version. The trial version can be used for 15 hours. Time is consumed when you use the application. Feel free to also download our laser scanning data examples. Please find all data examples here.

Here you can download the processed layout results of the full version of Point-Cab.

Buy Point-Cab Layout

Click here or send email to info@laserscanning-europe.com.

Intelisum receives U.S. Patent for GPS-Enhanced Laser Scanning System

On March 30,2010, Intelisum Inc. received a U.S. Patent for “GPS-enhanced system and method for automatically capturing and co-registering virtual models of a site”. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, this was originally filed on June 30, 2006. Details on the filing are listed below and the filing can be found here.


1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to three-dimensional modeling. More specifically, the present invention relates to a system and method for capturing three-dimensional virtual models of a site that can be co-registered and visualized within a computer system.

2. Description of Related Background Art

Lidar (light detection and ranging) uses laser technology to make precise distance measurements over long or short distances. One application of lidar is the range scanner, or scanning lidar. In a typical range scanner, a lidar is mounted on a tripod equipped with a servo mechanism that continuously pans and tilts the lidar to scan a three-dimensional area. During the scanning process, the lidar makes repeated range measurements to objects in its path. The resulting range data may be collected and serve as a rough model of the scanned area.

Physical limitations of the range scanner constrain the maximum resolution of the range data, which decreases with distance from the range scanner. At large distances, the range scanner may not be able to discern surface details of an object. A lack of continuous spatial data (gaps between points) and a lack of color attributes are significant limitations of conventional range scanners. Furthermore, a range scanner only scans objects within the lidar’s line-of-sight. As a result, no data is collected for the side of an object opposite to the lidar or for objects obscured by other objects (“occlusions”).

To obtain a more complete and accurate model, the range scanner can be moved to other scanning locations in order to scan the same area from different perspectives and thereby obtain range data for obscured objects. Thereafter, the resulting sets of range data can be merged into a single model.

Unfortunately, the merging of sets of range data is not automatic. Human decision-making is generally required at several steps in the merging process. For instance, a human surveyor is typically needed to determine the relative distances between the range scanning locations and the scanned area. Furthermore, a human operator must manually identify points in common (“fiducials”) between multiple sets of range data in order to align and merge the sets into a single model. Such identification is by no means easy, particularly in the case of curved surfaces. The need for human decision-making increases the cost of modeling and the likelihood of error in the process.


A system for capturing a virtual model of a site includes a range scanner for scanning the site to generate range data indicating distances from the range scanner to real-world objects. The system also includes a global positioning system (GPS) receiver coupled to the range scanner for acquiring GPS data for the range scanner at a scanning location. In addition, the system includes a communication interface for outputting a virtual model comprising the range data and the GPS data.

The system may further include a transformation module for using the GPS data with orientation information, such as bearing, for the range scanner to automatically transform the range data from a scanning coordinate system to a modeling coordinate system, where the modeling coordinate system is independent of the scanning location. A co-registration module may then combine the transformed range data with a second set of transformed range data for the same site generated at a second scanning location.

The system also includes a digital camera coupled to the range scanner for obtaining digital images of the real-world objects scanned by the range scanner. The system may associate the digital images of the real-world objects with the corresponding range data in the virtual model.

A system for building a virtual model of a site includes a communication interface for receiving a first set of range data indicating distances from a range scanner at a first location to real-world objects. The communication interface also receives a first set of GPS data for the range scanner at the first location. The system further includes a transformation module for using the first set of GPS data with orientation information for the range scanner to automatically transform the first set of range data from a first local coordinate system to a modeling coordinate system.

A system for modeling an object includes a range scanner for scanning an object from a first vantage point to generate a first range image. The system further includes a GPS receiver for obtaining GPS readings for the first vantage point, as well as a storage medium for associating the first range image and the GPS readings within a first virtual model.

The range scanner may re-scan the object from a second vantage point to generate a second range image. Likewise, the GPS receiver may acquire updated GPS readings for the second vantage point, after which the storage medium associates the second range image and the updated GPS readings within a second virtual model. A transformation module then employs the GPS readings of the virtual models with orientation information for the range scanner at each location to automatically transform the associated range images from local coordinate systems referenced to the vantage points to a single coordinate system independent of the vantage points.

3D Visualization Comes Alive [Holograms]

Zebra Imaging Produces Printable 3D HologramsThree-dimensional space is a geometric model of the physical universe in which we live, work and are now entertained. Television manufacturers are quickly working to release the 3D-capable broadcasts that cable and satellite providers are already offering. For example, the 2010 Masters will be broadcast live in 3D on CBS, April 8-11. 3D movies used to be a rarity, but are now found weekly in theaters across the nation.

Physical 3D models have been used for decades to visualize City improvements in need of public approval and to help architects portray their ideas to the owner. Topographic contour maps have been used to visualize ground terrain in a two-dimensional environment for drainage studies, military strategy planning, city planning, etc. These models are often costly and take too long to construct.

Printed renderings are more easy and cost-effective to produce, but they lack the interactiveness of even the physical models.

The recent developments and adoption of Building Information Models (BIM) and intelligent 3D models have enabled architects and engineers to reach beyond just building a “pretty picture”. These “intelligent” models serve as a collaboration tool for designers working on different aspects of the project to visualize their designs and avoid any clashes during construction. Once the project is complete, this data can be used for detailed asset/facility life-cycle management.

The industry is now relying more on the virtual 3D models for design and construction and less on the typical 2D plans. However, we are still faced with the dilemma of having a working document that we can physically touch that represents the latest design. If only there was a way to have the best of both worlds – a 3D model on a 2D printed plan.

A while back I stumbled across Zebra Imaging through Twitter and after spending a day at their facility in Austin, Texas, I believe our industry is about to change. They produce full-color printed holographic images that can be used for numerous visualization applications including military planning project and concept demonstrations for investors.

3D is now a standard output for most CAD systems, and is commonly used for viewing terrain data and built environments. ZEBRA Imaging offers a product that allows you to view this data from more than one angle, without having to redraw the images on a computer screen. ZEBRA Imaging provides fairly large – 600mm by 800mm – flat media holograms. They are portable and can be created using a number of data sources; most importantly, they don’t require special tools (e.g. glasses or scopes) for viewing.

The holograms are used in a variety of ways, including military visualizations, project presentations and concept demonstrations for investors.

Monochrome view of New Orleans showing the Superdome.

From ZEBRA Imaging literature:

  • 3-D perspectives are visible horizontally and vertically; one can look over and under the image and from side to side without glasses or goggles
  • Wide angle of view – horizontal viewing is over 95 degrees, allowing many people to walk around and view an image simultaneously
  • Allows for unlimited size while maintaining the integrity of the image
  • Images are projected several feet in front of or behind the hologram and appear to be floating in air
  • Compact and portable – images are flat or flexible plastic panels that can be stored and shipped easily, taking up very little space
  • Any 3-D volumetric data set from any source may be used

ZEBRA’s capabilities also include the ability to produce holograms that change depending upon the viewer’s angle. This is beneficial when attempting to depict varying levels of a building, terrain, etc. It is also helpful when trying to portray a particular image before and after an event. For example, Zebra created 3D visual of the Lower Manhattan skyline before and after 9-11. From one angle, a view of the Twin Towers before the disaster can be seen and from another, the rubble in the aftermath.

Before 9-11. (Click for larger image)
After 9-11. (Click for larger image)

The four images below were used at the GEOINT Symposium to show the same corner at four different time periods. Each time the corner is viewed, it shows a different aspect of the structure.

(Click for larger image)
ZEBRA Imaging showed this example of generals looking at an urban area. The entire image is a color hologram – including the generals, the people in the background, etc.

Viewing a Zebra Imaging hologram is a viewing experience that is impossible to appreciate with the 2D limitations of a computer screen. The videos below give you an opportunity to understand how the real-world Zebra holograms appear through the lens of a 2D video camera.

Overview Video
A 2 minute overview showing a wide array of sample 3D Zebra holographic images
Windows Media – 5mbQuicktime – 24mb

A 15 second video that shows several monochrome samples (includes holograms not found in the Overview video)
Windows Media – 560kQuicktime – 3mb


15 second video that shows several architectural holographic image samples
Windows Media – 640kQuicktime – 4mb

Automotive & Manufacturing

A 57 second video that shows automotive and other manufacturing 3D Zebra holographic images. Contains similar footage as the overview with a few more examples
Windows Media – 2.3mbQuicktime – 15mb

Industrial Design
30 second video containing several samples of industrial design holographic images
Windows Media – 1.2mbQuicktime – 5.4mb

This image shows an interesting real-world application for the Ford Motor Company.

The first movie shows an interesting real-world application for the Ford Motor Company. This image shows the interior layout of a specific car.

A map is a model of reality that allows you to see, understand and analyze geography. ZEBRA Imaging’s offerings extend this model in a most interesting and utilitarian way.

Michael Klug, CTO of Zebra Imaging discusses the technology at Autodesk University 2009:

Boeing Launches Compact 3-D Imaging Camera

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., March 8, 2010 — The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced it has begun offering a new, compact, energy-efficient camera that provides three-dimensional images for military and commercial applications.

Boeing Directed Energy Systems and wholly owned Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab have jointly developed the camera using their own research and development funding, and successfully tested it over the past two years by attaching it to mobile ground platforms and a Boeing AH-6 Little Bird helicopter. Equipped with advanced sensors that were developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory and transferred to Boeing under a teaming arrangement, the cube-shaped camera is one-third the size and uses one-tenth the power of most comparable 3-D imaging cameras.

“Our three-dimensional camera fits a lot of capability into a small package,” said Nasser Karam, vice president of Advanced Technology Products at Spectrolab. “Its compact design and modest power needs will allow it to be deployed on a wide range of platforms, including unmanned aerial and ground vehicles that don’t have much room or power to spare.”

The camera, which Boeing can customize for each customer, has many potential uses, including mapping terrain, tracking targets and seeing through foliage. To create a 3-D image, the camera fires a short pulse of laser light, then measures the pulse’s flight time to determine how far away each part of the camera’s field of view is.

“The camera combines cutting-edge sensor technology with Boeing’s advanced pointing and tracking solutions and real-time processing to provide our customers with highly integrated 3-D imaging payloads for ground, airborne or space-based applications,” said Joseph Paranto, Growth lead for Directed Energy Systems in Albuquerque.

Boeing is currently integrating the camera into compact 3-D imaging payloads on unmanned aerial vehicles and will be testing that capability this spring. The team will also add 3-D video capability to the camera soon to complement its existing still-image capability.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world’s largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.

Source: http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=1107

SPAR 2010 Laser Scanning Conference Summary

Due to inclement weather in Washington D.C., I was not able to make it back to The Woodlands in time for the first day of SPAR 2010, but I sure do have a lot to share with you after day 2. Below are some highlights from the well-attended event:

Zebra Imaging – if you did not have a chance to see them in person, be sure to check out their website because they have developed a truly remarkable product. Zebra Imaging makes digitally-mastered, actively-animated, true-color, full-parallax holographic images. These holographic images are available in full color, or in monochrome (green). Zebra’s holographic images can be scaled to any size, large or small. By tiling together multiple tiles, it is possible to create large city maps, full sized cars, humans, and machinery. Check out a sample video of their technology here. Look for a full post about this technology after the conference.

Trimble Indoor Mobile Mapping Solution (TIMMS) – Simply put, this technology is full-dome mobile scanning for interior applications. The technology uses the same IMU-type technology as aerial LiDAR and mobile mapping, but without the GPS. You simply push a cart around a facility to capture detailed, accurate point cloud data without the hassles of registration. Monthly rentals are available or you can purchase the technology.

Z+F Camera Attachment for the Imager 5006iZ+F showed off a new digital camera attachment for the Imager 5006i/Leica HDS-6100. The camera mounts on top of the unit and integrates with the point cloud data through the use of their proprietary software. There are batch capabilities that allow application of the RGB values to be applied to multiple scans at once. These values are appended to the ZFS files without affecting the intensity values. It works flawlessly with the HDS6100, however, a hardware upgrade is needed in order to work with the HDS6000. The cameras can be purchased or leased from Z+F directly.

Velodyne Lidar Inc. showed off their real-time 360-degree LiDAR sensor. Velodyne’s sensor was used on the Radiohead House of Cards music video directed by James Frost and Zoo Film Productions for which I recently had the privilege of working with on a new project. More on that once the project has been released… it is big, real big! In the meantime, check out the results from the Radiohead project. It is guaranteed to amaze you!

Deke Smith gave a great presentation on the buildingSMART alliance and the National BIM Standard. Join at http://www.buildingsmartalliance.org. Download the Whole Building Design Guide at http://www.wbdg.org.

I regret that I was not able to attend the first day, but it has been great to see colleagues I have not seen in a while and catch up on some new technology. Look for more info to be posted tomorrow. Follow us on Twitter for real-time updates from the conference.

Leica Geosystems HDS Announces New 3D Laser Scanning Software

Leica Geosystems announces three new laser scanning software products for scan data import, forensic scene mapping, and modeling complex 3D surfaces. Combined, these products increase the breadth and depth of laser scanning software solutions available from Leica Geosystems.

A new, standalone Cyclone IMPORTER module is part of the separately announced, enhanced Cyclone 7.0 software suite. This new “open systems” module enables the direct use by Cyclone of scan data. Direct import of native data formats avoids conversion steps to neutral formats that can be time consuming and that are generally not as efficient for downstream data processing. Overall, it lets users of scan data from 3rd party scanners take better advantage of the broad capabilities in the Cyclone suite of software.

Cyclone IMPORTER module

ForensicMap Pro, developed by MicroSurvey, is available exclusively from Leica Geosystems. It builds on the strength of MicroSurvey’s existing software for mapping forensic scenes and incidents and takes advantage of Leica’s point cloud engine technology. With the addition of point cloud processing capabilities in mapping software specific for them, forensic professionals can now take further, direct advantage of the richness and completeness of 3D High-Definition SurveyTM data for forensic investigations, a high growth area for laser scanning.

Leica ForensicMap Pro software

3DReshaper software, a powerful, standalone software for working efficiently with large, complex meshes and comparing them against designmodels, has been added to the suite of point cloud processing software directly available from Leica Geosystems. Developed by Technodigit SARL, a Hexagon company, 3DReshaper enables users of laser scan data to create smooth surface models of very complex 3D geometry surfaces. This capability is especially useful for laser scanning applications involving heritage, archaeology, architecture, ship hulls, and terrain mapping among others. Hexagon is also the parent company for Leica Geosystems.

For more information please visit www.leica-geosystems.com/hds