Pointools Launches new Software: Pointools Edit

Written by: Pointools

The challenges of managing and working with large point cloud datasets efficiently and maximising their value has been the primary concern of point cloud software specialists Pointools who have recently announced the availability of the eagerly-awaited flagship product Pointools Edit.

Key Features
Pointools Edit builds on the features of the successful Pointools View Pro, adding a new set of tools and enhancements in key areas without compromising performance. Like View Pro, Edit is also based on the Vortex point cloud engine designed to deliver productivity with huge datasets. Pointools say their focus with Edit has been to provide a post-registration toolkit that prepares point cloud data for production of deliverables reducing the overall project production time. Edit has been tested rigorously in production environments to ensure it delivers, even for most demanding projects.

Layers
Point layers are one of Edit’s most unique and powerful features. For example cleaning noise from an interior scan is made easier by moving the walls into another layer, allowing the user to focus on the interior. Once complete, the walls can be moved back to the original layer. Layers can also be locked effectively acting as a mask. Once a user grasps this methodology, editing that may have in the past taken many hours can now take minutes to complete with fewer commands needed.

Editing
In addition to the standard rectangle and polygon selection tools, Edit provides a 3d brush tool for easy selection of objects in complex environments. Selections are fast and utilise multiple CPU cores if available. When working with huge point datasets, density can be reduced for faster operation and on export the editing will automatically be reapplied to every point.

RGB Retouching
RGB values in point clouds can be re-touched using a colour matching and 3d brush with layers for masking and precise control. Photo editing filters such as brightness/contrast, hue/saturation can also be applied and the results saved to the point cloud file. Where the presentation of the point cloud data is important, this can fix mis-mapped obstructions or sky areas on scan data as well as scanner ‘circles’ not covered by photography.

For more information visit www.pointools.com

About Pointools
Pointools Ltd are a specialist software company producing a range of products for working with point cloud data. A UK company founded in 2003, Pointools products have thousands of users across the world. Pointools software accepts data from almost any laser scanner with many manufacturer’s native formats supported. Pointools Edit follows on from Pointools View Pro, Pointools Model for AutoCAD and Pointools4Rhino. Pointools products can be purchased from a network of resellers worldwide.

Too-cool technologies: Game Engine-quality Point Clouds and Digital Holography

By Lieca N. Hohner, Chief Editor SparLLC

Our industry never comes short in the innovation department. HKS Inc., headquartered in Dallas, Texas, proves this—it’s turned “regular” point clouds into game-engine quality. Here’s the story. And then read on for some amazing display solutions.
HKS, Inc.’s Pat Carmichael, manager of the Advanced Technology Group, began investigating point cloud scans as a way to achieve high-quality as-built information for the company’s architectural geometry applications used for schematic design (most often Revit). The team realized many benefits using laser scan data, including the ability to obtain data not manually possible, draw while acquiring field data, gain highly accurate data comparable to total station data, and to collect immense amounts of data in rapid time. Point clouds are the bread and butter of rapid model acquisition, Carmichael said in his presentation at SPAR 2009.
HKS scan data captured from subcontractors’ scanners are used in HKS’ home-grown product called BIMMIT, an evolving spin-off product from their real-time game-engine product ARCHengine that has been in development for more than 10 years and that which enhances Revit models. BIMMIT is usually coupled with HKS’ proprietary ARCHengine for real-time display of the resulting 3D BIMMIT/Revit models, which can be between 8 million to 30 million polygons depending on their use on a laptop or desktop.
To illustrate the awesomeness of this melding, consider the W hotel in Dallas. The final model of the pre-constructed hotel designed by HKS was used to show city officials how the hotel’s sight lines would affect the downtown skyline so valued by the city. It was also used to sell out the associated condos prior to construction, as developers could take prospective buyers virtually up to their windows to show the views from their units. This same concept was used for the Ritz-Carlton twin towers in downtown Dallas; the presentation helped to pre-sell approximately 85% of the Phase One units in about six months—even in this down market, Carmichael said.
HKS used aerial lidar from the city to set elevations, some of which are photographically textured. HKS also flies with a RED ONE digital camera, which shoots in 4K resolution, whereby they extract high-resolution textures rapidly for application with the aerial lidar geometry. Most of the building models come out of Revit.
With these incredible design tools, HKS also performed a design review on the seating in the new American Airlines sports arena. HKS showed staff, team owners and other investors how seats would articulate and rise for a hockey or basketball arena and specifically how they would affect viewlines. On the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, HKS took the collected field scan data, structural data and drawing data—and all site views from all 89,000 seats, scoreboards, etc., into ARCHengine. To check the models during construction, HKS used a total station to get information from point to point. In the desktop models of the ARCHengine tools, everything is georeferenced with lat/long/elev, which gives the team dimensional data.
“It’s a serious design tool,” Carmichael said. “It’s a serious communication tool to the clients/users/vendors, all the other suppliers, and a bunch of other people participating in the design process.”
Carmichael says the next version of ARCHengine version 3 will tie individual objects to a reporting structure, in line with 4D business strategies that tie in time, space calculations and scheduling. He said HKS Advanced Technology Group is also working with Intel on the high-end multi-processors to be able to react more quickly to a cluster of cores for simulations.
Those involved in sports stadium, government, military or GSA work will be interested in HKS’ Advanced Technology Group solutions.
To see an interactive map of the seats in the new Dallas Stadium with panoramic images generated from ARCHengine, click tohttp://www.dallascowboys.com/tickets/newstadiumInteractiveMaps.cfm

Digital Imaging, Holographic Style

Zebra Imaging, Inc., provider of holographic display technologies, has taken visualization of LiDAR and laser scan data sets to a new level. Users in the geospatial, AEC, automotive, medical, oil & gas, military and other arenas can view a topographical data set in full parallax, full color and without any glasses or goggles. “Seeing LiDAR and laser scanned data volumetrically expands its utility and value,” said Michael Klug, Zebra’s CTO, at this year’s SPAR 2009. Government and commercial uses seem endless.
Zebra’s solution graduates a physical display to digital holography by reconstructing a 3D image in space using film-based displays and illumination. The 12-year-old company founded by graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab has cut its teeth by aiding the military and law enforcement with displays that assist planning and after-action efforts, situational awareness and training.
It’s pretty cool stuff—a far, FAR cry from the hologram stickers I collected as a little girl. Klug describes the process as being more like burning data to a disc rather than a printing process. From a pair of GeoTiffs (one being a DEM, the other a geotextured map), Zebra’s proprietary Imager burns the pattern into photopolymer film with intersecting laser beams and produces an A1-size (594 × 841 mm) monochrome hologram that can be produced in CAD, GIS, medical imaging, oil & gas, etc., formats in 1-millimeter hogel size—about a pixel. Process time is about three hours. An average A1-size monochrome (green) hologram costs about $2,500. Full color and replication is available, and Klug says high-speed development will be available by Q4. Klug claims Zebra’s solution is similar or lower cost compared to other market alternatives today, and that it is more transportable and usable with full solid parallax 3D.
Zebra has produced more than 6,000 LiDAR-based holographic displays for military use in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2006. The 2×2 ½-foot maps provide warfighters with a common communication tool to get a common operating picture of an area of interest without language or cultural obstacles. Klug said they’re easily transportable and durable and, later, shreddable.
Focus on AEC Market
In the last two years, the company has developed a new product line for the AEC realm. Attention focuses on geospatial context and all phases of design, BIM documentation, and communications and marketing.
Currently, Zebra is defining a styles guide and a CAD tool API plug-in-based interface available from a drop-down menu in Revit, 3DS Max and Google Sketchup (at first, then others). Klug says the creation of a wizard is a bit complicated for Zebra since they render with in-house tools to manage 64,000 to a quarter-million views of a scene within two hours. So, they’ve created a render-quality selection where the user can select a point cloud, a simple-shaded rendition of a data set, a textured data set or a photo-real selection (which customizes the job). Orders are returned in A-frame and horizontal format (each of which delivers different results) and include a lighting component.
The Creation of Dynamic Displays
In 2004, Zebra was sponsored by DARPA to create a program for dynamic 3D displays for interactive graphic-intensive applications.  The dynamic displays would be easy to view, have 360-degree visibility, be electronically updated in real-time, be modular and scalable to 6×6 feet, and offer horizontal, vertical and inclined orientations. To date, they’ve established a 1-meter diagonal prototype modular display of 8-inch square tiles with an image volume that occupies about 1 foot of space. It directly plugs into OpenGL-based applications and updates at 10 Hz. Pilot production and beta phase of this display is expected next year. Klug said any rendering feature a user can see on a 2D screen can be produced in the hologram, including translucency, transparency, reflection, etc.

Uses for these displays include, but don’t appear to be limited to, spatial, project and industrial process planning, land development, event security logistics, emergency management, heritage preservation, forensics presentation and construction progress monitoring.

Autodesk to Incorporate Point Cloud Capability in Future Releases of AutoCAD

This is old news, but it is worth posting here for users thinking about purchasing point cloud software in the near future.

Ottawa, Canada, Tuesday, September 23, 2008 — Autodesk, Inc. has signed an agreement with Ambercore Software to license its point cloud technology and incorporate

it into future releases of Autodesk software. Point clouds are extremely large data files usually created through the use of laser scanning, high definition surveying, or LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). They provide a more accurate representation of existing conditions whether of a terrain surface or urban center, a roadway or bridge, or the interior/exterior of a building.

The Ambercore Software point cloud technology will enable customers to read, store, index, and quickly retrieve the extremely large data sets associated with laser scanning and LIDAR. As a result they will be able to visualize and analyze data in 3D and better build high-precision 3D models. Examples of customer benefits include:

• Local government, utility and telecommunications customers will be able to maximize the return on their investment in large-scale LIDAR mapping and infrastructure projects.

• AEC customers will experience the power of Building Information Modeling (BIM) earlier in the project lifecycle. By providing the capability to incorporate highly accurate LIDAR data into the design process, we will provide a foundation for creating more accurate designs faster. This will be particularly beneficial to our civil engineering customers involved in road and highway design.

“The point cloud technology from Ambercore Software will allow Autodesk customers to easily incorporate extremely large and highly accurate LIDAR data into the design and infrastructure management process,” said Lisa Campbell, vice president, Autodesk Geospatial. “The incorporation of this technology into Autodesk’s portfolio of Geospatial and Building Information Modeling software means that our customers will be able to start with a digital model earlier in the design process or expand the precision and detail of existing infrastructure databases. As a result they will be able to create more accurate design and mapping information and use that information to visualize, simulate, and analyze projects before they are built.”

“Ambercore’s point cloud software has been engineered to efficiently manipulate extremely large spatial data,” said Martin Sendyk, President and CEO of Ambercore Software. “With the increasing proliferation of 3D sensing equipment and resultant point cloud data, the ability to extract intelligence from massive 3D data sets is more important than ever. We are very excited to be solving this challenge with an innovative company like Autodesk.”

About BIM
BIM is an integrated process built on coordinated, reliable information about a project from design through construction and into operations. By adopting BIM, architects, engineers, contractors and owners can easily create coordinated digital design information and documentation; use that information to more accurately visualize, simulate and analyze performance, appearance and cost; and reliably deliver the project faster, more economically and with reduced environmental impact

About Autodesk
Autodesk, Inc. is the world leader in 2D and 3D design software for the manufacturing, building and construction, and media and entertainment markets. Since its introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982, Autodesk has developed the broadest portfolio of state-of-the-art digital prototyping solutions to help customers experience their ideas before they are real. Fortune 1000 companies rely on Autodesk for the tools to visualize, simulate and analyze real-world performance early in the design process to save time and money, enhance quality and foster innovation. For additional information about Autodesk, visit http://www.autodesk.com.

About Ambercore
Ambercore provides enterprise-scale software and service solutions for Energy, Mining and natural resource sectors. With its powerful spatial modeling and simulation software, Ambercore helps clients make important business decisions by collecting, integrating and analyzing 2D and 3D spatial information. Ambercore’s Terrapoint Division has provided LiDAR and other digital mapping services for a diverse clientele in over forty countries for the past twenty years. Terrapoint’s primary focus is to find solutions that fit client needs, and to continue a reputation for meeting and exceeding client demands in the delivery of digital elevation and image data. Service and product offerings include complete airborne LiDAR, and digital imaging for engineering, survey and mapping applications. Ambercore’s TITAN® Division develops leading edge mobile LiDAR systems for ground based high accuracy applications. Best of breed solutions comprised of software, hardware and services have been deployed internationally with tier-one clients. Ambercore is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada with offices in Houston, Calgary, South Africa and Europe. For more information please see www.ambercore.com

Ambercore, Terrapoint, and TITAN are registered trademarks or trademarks of Ambercore Software Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates, in the USA and/or other countries. All other brand names, product names, or trademarks belong to their respective holders. Ambercore reserves the right to alter product offerings and specifications at any time without notice, and is not responsible for typographical or graphical errors that may appear in this document.

Autodesk and AutoCAD are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates, in the USA and/or other countries.

Press Information:
Samantha Mabey, Ambercore Software
Tel.: 613-216-0082
E-mail (press only): press@ambercore.com
General Information: contact.us@ambercore.com
Please visit our website at www.ambercore.com