The Democratization of 3D Scanning

The Democratization of 3D Scanning

By Keith Lay, Director of Content at Clirio Technologies

image of scanning for The Democratization of 3D Laser Scanning
The Democratization of 3D Laser Scanning

From CAD to photogrammetry to LiDAR, engineers of all disciplines acquire, process, and share 3D data on a daily basis. Historically, the creation of this 3D data has been the purview of specialists. This has been especially true of 3D and LiDAR scanning of project sites in the field. Recent advancements in technology have made these valuable tools accessible to a much larger segment of engineers, construction specialists and field workers. 

Beyond just the acquisition of 3D scans, true democratization of this data comes from the ease in which it can be organized and shared with others. Furthermore, the true power and usefulness of 3D and spatial data comes from getting it off the 2D screen and into the room as a digital twin that can be interacted with in true 1:1 scale. 

Famous photographer Chase Jarvis once said, “the best camera is the one that’s with you,” and this is also true of 3D scanning. When you encounter an issue in the field, it is far more effective to communicate that issue with a 3D scan, as opposed to just a photo. This gives your colleagues the full information and context with which to help solve these issues. Having immediate access to a 3D scanner in your pocket or backpack is superior to having to bring in specialized equipment and operators to your location. The immediacy, ease of use and portability of this handheld reality capture makes it much more likely that a 3D scan will be taken. The actual existence of the data becomes the most important feature.

When Apple included LiDAR scanning capabilities into their ‘Pro’ line of iPhones and iPads, they did so with relatively little fanfare. In fact, many people own these models without even realizing they are walking around with a reality capture device.  Apple left it to the software community to build functionality for the hardware. There have been several applications created to take advantage of Apple’s LiDAR, from simple (ex: room measurement) to more complex (ex: 3D scanning). Most of these applications share the same problems as many photo capture apps: no intuitive way to organize the data, and no powerful way to share and collaborate with others. Data and image capture applications that rely on linear storage (such as camera rolls or folders) or standard sharing tools (ex: text or email) fail to give their users the organizational power and collaborative ease-of-use that would make them go-to tools in the field or worksite.

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