At HxGNLive Juergen Dold, President of Hexagon Geosystems which is responsible for the Leica Geosystems brand, gave a talk about perception and reality. Perception is how we see the world, but perceptions are subjective and are not always reliable. Reality can be quite different. If you have ever worn a pedometer, you will know exactly what he is referring to - the actual number of steps you walked or ran is often quite different from what you think you did. Until now measuring things in construction and other industries has been so laborious that it is frequently not done. Decisions may end up based on the "biggest salary's" opinion. With laser scanning, photogrammetry, UAVs and other technologies measuring things has become several orders of magnitude easier and we can replace some of our perceptions with reality - Juergen called it fusing reality and perception - and coined a new term for it perceptality. Since as Peter Drucker said, you can't manage what you don't measure, increasing the reality domain at the expense of someone's perception has the potential to dramatically change construction.
Juergen provided several interesting real world examples of how this translates into practice.
1 Vegetation management for transmission lines - inspecting transmission lines for vegetation encroachment in North America is mandated by NERC. This is typically an expensive, slow process involving a helicopter carrying a LiDAR camera. To capture the necessary density of points to be able to identify cables, pylons, and different types of vegetation requires flying at low altitude. With the latest single photon laser scanner (Leica SPL100), it is possible to collect 80 points per square meter (m2) flying at an altitude of 2,500 meters (about 8,000 ft) as opposed to 3 points per m2 with traditional linear laser scanning.
2 Urban mapping - urban mapping can also be time consuming and expensive, but with multiple cameras including LiDAR, photography, and near infrared it is possible to capture a more realistic 3D representation faster.
3 Scanning industrial plants - Cepsa (Compañía Española de Petróleos, S.A.U.) is a Spanish energy company who are scanning their chemical plants which requires thousands of scans. A major software advance (Leica Cyclone) allows them to automate the registration process saving a lot of time.
4 Forensics - scanners in backpacks (Pegasus Backpack) or handheld scanners make it possible to walk through the scene of an accident or crime and capture trusted data without disturbing the site. The data can be used in scientific forensic analysis and to visualize the results of the analysis in court.
5 Digitalizing AEC - The construction industry is one of the most inefficient industries. $10 trillion is spent on construction goods and services every year. But whereas the average worker adds $37 of value for every hour worked, a construction worker adds only $25 per hour worked. Construction productivity has stagnated over the past decades in many of the world's advanced economies. To attract the private financing that is necessary to build and maintain the world's infrastructure will require improving productivity. Digitization can play an important role in this process or even be disruptive (transformative) as it has been in other industries. Innovative firms have increased productivity by 50 to 60 percent by infusing digital technology, new materials, and advanced automation, reskilling the workforce, changing business practices and pushing government to change regulations.
Our existing stock of structures will be with us for many years to come. Maintaining this infrastructure is currently inefficient and expensive. New technology can dramatically change this by making renovation more efficient and affordable. A first step is democratizing scanning. I have blogged about the deluge of handheld, low cost scanners that are now available. Many see handheld scanners as potentially revolutionizing the construction sector. Mantis Vision has offered a handheld scanner F5 for professionals for several years. Originally targetted on the real estate industry, the Matterport Pro allows you to scan a house in an hour or less, upload the captured data to the cloud (Amazon Web Services) and a couple of hours later you will have a fully-rendered model that can be used for walkthroughs with potential buyers. The Faro Freestyle is targetted on the architecture, accident reconstruction, civil engineering, construction, facility management, and industrial manufacturing sectors.
I have blogged previously about the Leica Geosystems BLK360 and Cyclone Register 360 which together appear to be a game changer for professionals in construction. It is a bit of a stretch to call it a handheld scanner, but it weighs only 2.2 lbs (1 kg) and is incredibly small 6.5 by 4 inches. Unlike other "handheld" devices it is a full laser scanner and imager - it captures 360,000 points/second with a range of 0.6 - 60 meters with millimeter precision. It has three cameras, laser scanner, photo, and near infrared. It's one button operation redefines simplicity. It can capture a full 360 degree scan in less than 3 minutes. Cyclone Register 360 allows automated registration of scans from many devices to be merged with "one-button" simplicity.