Quick Pitch: Automatically extract vector planar surfaces from point cloud data.
Having used just about every piece of software on the market related to processing and extracting vector information from point cloud data, I am always looking for the next best thing that will make my life and my team’s life easier. We have seen the hardware side of laser scanning come a long way in a very short period of time; however, the software side has not improved at the same blistering pace.
When the availability of ClearEdge3D’s EdgeWise™ software was announced here back in June and webinars were hosted to demonstrate the abilities of the software, I was anxious to get my hands on a copy of it to test it out for myself. While a little reluctant to offer demo licenses in the beginning, ClearEdge3D quickly began to realize that skeptics like myself were not willing to spend $5,000.00 on a piece of software that we have not had a chance to try out for ourselves, especially in this economy. They quickly began to recognize the needs of the market and responded accordingly by providing time-based pre-release beta trials to highly interested parties.
The pre-release software I received (v. 1.0.2b) was easy to install, although there was an issue with the hardware lock driver on my Vista 64-bit laptop. This was quickly resolved by downloading the correct driver from the SafeNet website (Note: the updated drivers will be included on future distributions).
Right out of the box (figuratively speaking, as the software was downloaded from their website) I was very impressed with the overall look and feel of the software. ClearEdge3D was obviously interested in making their software easy to use and graphically pleasing-to-the-eye because they certainly did accomplish that. The UI is based on the latest Microsoft Office-type menu structure which made it very easy to jump right in.
Ease of Use:
ClearEdge3D insisted that I attend a 1-hour web-based training session and, while not necessarily needed due to the exceptional design and layout of the software itself, it did prove to be very beneficial and probably saved me the headache of learning by trial and error. With exception to a few terminology questions, I found the software’s left-to-right workflow very easy to use. Every step of the software’s conversion process was very well thought out and the routines made sense, technically speaking.
While the software was primarily designed for the Architectural/BIM workflow, I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about the benefits of automatic conversion vs. the time needed to export the point cloud data to a format EdgeWise™ would accept (non-gridded PTX was the format of choice). Having been in the terrestrial laser scanning business over nine years, I know that point cloud data can be very cumbersome to deal with, especially when having to export to different formats. However, I was pleasantly surprised with EdgeWise’s ability to quickly import the various PTX files that I wanted to test.
NOTE: For those Cyclone users out there, EdgeWise™ is an automated “region grow patch, extend patch to all” batch routine. It really does a great job of quickly identifying planar surfaces and extending the edges to meet adjacent planes. The data import and processing time was a lot faster than I expected, but I did drastically reduce the number of points (to about 1 million).
- Export point cloud data (individual scans) to format accepted by EdgeWise™ (see FAQ on company’s website for more information on formats)
- Import individual scans into EdgeWise™
- Follow a few simple steps to identify the location of the scanner
- Extract ground surface (TIN)
- Let the software work its magic – it really is as simple as that!
If you have a significant amount of basic models that need to be created from point cloud data, EdgeWise™ would likely be a good investment. Keep an eye on this product, because they are definitely on to something and, with a little direction from qualified users, they are on track to change our typical workflow.