By Hexagon | Leica Geosystems

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Software Advances Push Point Cloud Use to New Level in Building Documentation

Users cite breakthroughs in registration speed, simplicity as key drivers. — Point clouds captured with professional-grade 3D laser scanners have long been the gold standard for as-built documentation because of their unrivaled accuracy and level of detail. More recently, innovations such as the imaging laser scanner have promised to make point clouds accessible to everyone. But achieving maximum usability of these rich 3D datasets has been impeded by a few hurdles. For one, registration of the point cloud – the process of aligning various views into a complete model – in the past required a certain level of expertise and manual manipulation. Loading and processing large point clouds could also be laborious and time-consuming, often adding hours or even days to the office side of the workflow. Fortunately, recent advances in software have eliminated these obstacles, paving the way for point clouds to become the universal foundation for building documentation.

Instant Loading, Fast Rendering Increase Usability

A crucial turning point came in 2015 with the introduction of Leica JetStream, the point cloud project server that provides instant loading and ultrafast rendering, along with advances in the leading point cloud productivity CAD plugin platform, Leica CloudWorx. Construction firms such as DAVIS that were already on the leading edge with point clouds saw a significant jump in usability with these developments. “We’re starting to work more with architects to have them connect into the point cloud that we’ve captured,” explains Shaun Lewis, survey specialist managing the reality capture practice at DAVIS. “We’re able to stream it to them in a low bandwidth environment and be able to have them working within Revit and designing things within our point cloud. The piece that really helps with that is JetStream and the CloudWorx plugin.”

Easy Registration Tools Provide Significant Boost

Now DAVIS and other firms are seeing the potential for another significant boost in point cloud usability with the new Cyclone REGISTER 360 software, which combines multithreaded batch routines, one-step import and processing, guided workflows, built-in QA/QC tools and automated reporting to save significant time and guesswork in using point clouds. “It’s going to have the masses,” says Lewis.  “We’ll be able to get more understanding of point clouds with REGISTER 360 because it’s easy to use, especially the visual aspect of it.” Watch the full review below.


Time Savings, Ease of Exports Are ‘Game Changer’

The time savings is also substantial. Users can go from loading scans to publishing a final deliverable in less than five minutes. “The import speed is a lot faster than what we’re typically used to,” says Matthew Sipple, senior survey project manager for Langan. “At the end, when you’re exporting out and publishing, the speed of that is incredible, and the fact that you can export to different products and different types of files with a click of a button rather than having to export it in one format and then running through a different program to go to another format – that’s a game changer.” Watch the full review below.

Whether users are looking for increased automation and the next generation of productivity tools for point clouds captured with a professional-grade laser scanner or an easy-to-use registration workflow with an imaging laser scanner, modern software delivers in spades. Point clouds have finally hit their prime.

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