The Making of PX-80: the World’s First Handheld LiDAR Scanner with Color Data
Paracosm has been at the forefront of SLAM-based 3D-mapping since the company’s founding in 2013. In the ensuing years, they’ve racked up an impressive resume: helping Google develop the dense 3D-mapping engine on the Project Tango smartphone, receiving iRobot’s first corporate VC investment, and most recently being acquired by spatial computing powerhouse Occipital (makers of the Structure Sensor).
The company’s first product was a low-cost structured-light 3D-scanner designed for capturing complex indoor spaces. While this system was initially targeted to visual effects creators and augmented reality developers, it quickly (and unexpectedly!) became a hit with mechanical, electrical, and plumbing contractors. As its popularity grew with geospatial (GIS), architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) professionals, Paracosm saw a need for a more robust handheld system that could capture much larger environments and operate both indoors and outdoors.
The Move to Large-Scale 3D Mapping
In 2016, Amir and the Paracosm team decided to roll up their sleeves and build the ultimate 3D-mapping powertool for their AEC + GIS customers. “After mastering what was possible with low-cost 3D sensors, we added LiDAR into the mix. We integrated Velodyne’s VLP-16 and never looked back.” Amir noted. “With it, we built PX-80 – the world’s first mobile LiDAR scanner that produces color data. For the Pokémon fans out there, it’s basically the evolved version of our former product,” he joked.
Not long after the first PX-80 prototype was built, Occipital (the spatial computing company behind Structure Sensor), acquired Paracosm. The combination of these two teams, makes them a powerful force in the world of 3D sensing. Paracosm now operates as a division of Occipital, focused on mobile LiDAR mapping. Between the newly launched Structure Core and PX-80, Occipital offers a line of 3D scanning devices that can beautifully capture everything from small objects to sprawling forests.
PX-80: Under the Hood
PX-80 is powered by a proprietary SLAM system which fuses sensor data from several sensors: LiDAR, camera, and accelerometer/gyroscope. This multi-sensor fusion makes tracking more robust in a variety of environments, from underground mines to industrial facilities.
The Velodyne VLP-16 LiDAR used in the PX-80 has an effective range of 80m, and acquires 300,000 points per second. By averaging many LiDAR sensor observations, the PX-80 typically achieves relative surface accuracies of +/- 1-2 cm.
The color camera integrated into the PX-80 is a 3.2 megapixel FLIR imager that colorizes the LiDAR points and captures spherical images (in addition to SLAM tracking). The SLAM processing happens on-device using an embedded Intel NUC computer.
Capture is the user interface for the PX-80 which controls data collection, provides a real-time scanning preview, and allows the user to post-process their scans in the field. The app connects to the PX-80 via a built-in wireless hotspot and does not need internet access to operate. All of the data can be post-processed in the field directly on the PX-80.
Retrace is a desktop app that is included with the PX-80 system. Retrace allows users to “retrace” their walking path through a project. Users can explore their color point-clouds as well as captured imagery with a easy to use street-view style interface. Retrace lets you visit your site remotely, record progress, and organize scans by date and location. This software is built to run on Windows (MacOS coming soon).
The PX-80 outputs .LAS and .PLY data formats and is compatible with Revit, ReCap, Navisworks, Orbit GT, CloudCompare and all point cloud tools that support these formats.
Paracosm has customers in over 15 countries using the PX-80 in a wide variety of applications: monitoring and documenting construction sites and building conditions, forestry management, manufacturing and plant maintenance, facilities management, security, and building/campus surveys.
2019 Product Roadmap
For 2019, the top three items on the product roadmap in order of priority for the PX-80 include:
- Faster data post-processing
- Referencing scans to ground control coordinates
- Support for auto merging of multiple scans from multiple PX-80 units to allow parallel scanning of entire campuses and facilities
Paracosm will provide you with a one day, on-site demo and training for a flat fee of $2,500. To find out more about Paracosm, the PX-80, its impressive list of customers, and to view sample data, visit paracosm.io