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I have just spent an incredible three days in Houston at the SPAR3D 2017 conference. There is so much going on right now in the 3D world with several key technologies just coming to fruition and finding broad application in the real world.
Many see handheld scanners as potentially revolutionizing the construction sector. Handheld scanners had a high profile at SPAR3D this year, with several vendors showing new products and many promising future products in the $400 price range. One vendor is already selling a 3D imaging product that attaches to an iPad and sells for $400.
First exhibited at the 2013 SPAR3D, Dot Product has released a products DPI-8 and DPI-8X (short range) similar in its basic technology, multisensor (IR and photo cameras) to their first handheld. I saw it first at the SPAR3D 2014 conference. Targetted at professionals, especially in the engineering and construction sector, their latest product incorporates SLAM and works with Android handhelds and tablets. All the processing is done locally on the handheld - no cloud processing is required. The captured point clouds are small - you can even cull the point clouds on the fly. The working range of the DPI-8 is from 0.6 m to 3.7 m. It export in PTS, PTX, PLY, and PTG. Binary files integrate directly with AVEVA LFM, Autodesk ReCap, Trimble RealWorks, CloudCompare, ClearEdge3D, Veesus Arena4D, and PanoMap. The DPI-8X lists for US$ 5150. Dot Product has been working with Google on Project Tango and says there is a $450 scanner in the future.
Mantis Vision has also offered a handheld scanner F5 for professionals for several years. Their latest offering is the Mantis Vision F5-SR scanner/imager. It has a range from 0.5 meters (m) up to 4.5 m with an accuracy of a few millimeters (mm). It also relies on IR and photo cameras. It uses triangulation to locate objects and is in lower end of the the F5 price range of $20-50,000. Mantis Vision promises to make its technology available for everyone - being able to scan an object, share the 3D model online, and send it to a 3D printer—from a smartphone. At the end of May Mantis Vision will be releasing a new scanner, the F6 at a price of $15,000. The F6 can perform dynamic as well as static scanning and it is possible to scan collaboratively with up to 16 of the devices.
A handheld scanner that garnered a lot of attention at SPAR3D was the Matterport Pro from Matterport Immersive Media Systems. Originally targetted on the real estate industry, the Matterport Pro allows you to scan a house in an hour or less, upload the captured data to the cloud (Amazon Web Services) and a couple of hours later you will have a fully-rendered model that can be used for walkthroughs with potential buyers. It provides a dollhouse view to see a whole property at once, an inside view for walkthroughs, and a floorplan view for a traditional top-down perspective. It relies on IR and photo cameras. It is pretty well restricted to indoor scans and requires multiple scans for a room - scanning every 1.5 to 2.5 meters. It is claimed to be 95.5 % accurate - it can be used for measurement for sales not for engineering or construction purposes. Its biggest advantages are the speed with which you can scan a house, for example, and the small size of the resulting file. It can also provide a 3D context for facilities management. For example, it can provide a mechanical room walk through with tags on different pieces of equipment and a way of directing anyone to any location in the facility. The Matterport Pro 3D Camera lists for US$ 3600.00 plus US$ 49/mo to US$ 149/mo for cloud processing.
I have already blogged about the Leica Geosystems BLK360 which includes Autodesk Recap Pro. 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 inches (in) by 4 in. Unlike the other devices described here it is a full laser scanner and imager. It captures 360,000 points/second with a range of 0.6 - 60 meters. It has one button and can capture a full 360 degree scan in less than 3 minutes. All aspects of the operation of the scanner can be controlled remotely from an iPad Pro. It can perform all the processing required for visualization in the field on an iPad Pro. It lists for US$16,000 and includes a one year license for Recap Pro.
I blogged about the Faro Freestyle previously. It can scan objects within a range of half a meter to 3 meters away with a resolution of better than 1.5mm with a image point density of up to 45,000 points/m² at 0.5m and up to 10,500 points/m² at 1m. The scanner is attached to a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet for visualizing the point cloud as you scan. It sells for $11,000 to $12,000. It is targetted on the architecture, accident reconstruction, civil engineering, construction, facility management, and industrial manufacturing sectors.
The least expensive scanner shown at SPAR3D was the Structure sensor with Canvas software from Occipital. A new screw-on lens increases the field of view to 120º so that it requires fewer scans to capture a room. Its range is 0.3 - 5 meters with a precision of 0.17%. It is targetted on the home owner as well as interior designers, architects, and contractors. It can be used to capture 3D models of interiors, share them, measure with them or convert them to formats supported by AutoCAD and Sketchup. The vendor offers a Scan To CAD service, that converts scans into editable CAD files (.skp, .dwg and .dae) for use with tools like SketchUp, AutoCAD, and Revit. It retails for $379 - $499 and attaches to several models of iPad including the iPad mini 4. At the end of April it will be possible to purchase Bridge, a headset that makes it possible to mix real world and virtual realities with an iPhone.
Leica Geosystems has announced the “BLK360,” a miniaturized 3D imaging laser scanner. The BLK360 captures full-color panoramic images overlaid on a high accuracy point cloud. The one-button Leica BLK360 and included Autodesk software is intended to be easy to operate so that anyone who can operate an iPad can use the imaging laser scanner. It is incredibly small - it weighs only about a kilogram.
It collects 360,000 points per second and has a range of 60 meters with 4 mm accuracy. In addition to a LiDAR sensor, the BLK360 includes infrared sensors for thermal imaging and 360° cameras. It is completely wireless and streams image and point cloud data to an iPad. A complete 360° laser scan with panoramic image capture and transfer to the iPad Pro requires 3 minutes.
With an anticipated retail price of the scanner and software is $15,990/€15,000, this really lowers the entry barrier to laser scanning.
At the SPAR International Conference in April 2014, Kirk Knorr from Burns & McDonnell and Gregory Lawes of point3D gave a presentation about their experience using a handheld scanner from DotProduct LLC , a relatively new startup. This is a professional device intended for engineers and others working in the construction industry. It is basically a 7" Android tablet with a compact near infrared structured light and rgb 3D imaging system. It weighs less than a kilogram and is accurate for engineering purposes at distances up to 3.3 meters. It costs thousands of dollars, much less than the tens of thousands of dollars for terrestrial laser scanners. Kirk Knorr and an engineer from Bechtel reported that he had been using the device on live construction projects for a year and in their view the DotProduct and similar handheld devices are going to revolutionize how we do construction. They foresaw this happening very soon, within a year.
Now a major metrology company FARO has announced the Freestyle3D Scanner, which is a high precision, handheld scanner which generates high-definition point clouds. It can be used to scan objects within a range of half a meter to 3 meters away with a resolution in 3D of better than 1.5mm with a image point density of up to 45,000 points/m² at 0.5m and up to 10,500 points/m² at 1m. The total scan volume can include up to 8.1m³. The device weighs less than a kilogram with dimensions 26cm x 31cm x 10.5cm. The scanner is attached to a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet for visualizing the point cloud as you scan.
Some of the applications of the scanner include architecture and interior design, restoration and 3D modelling, construction and facility management, and forensic applications including accident reconstruction.
At the SPAR International Conference today Kirk Knorr from Burns & McDonnell and Gregory Lawes of point3D gave a presentation about their experience using a handheld scanner from DotProduct LLC. This is a professional device intended for engineers and others working in the construction industry. It is basically a 7" Android tablet with a compact near infrared structured light and rgb 3D imaging system. It weighs less than a kilogram and is accurate for engineering purposes at distances up to 3.3 meters. It costs thousands of dollars, much less than the tens of thousands of dollars for terrestrial laser scanners.
To use it, you walk through or around the area of interest holding the scanner in your hand. It is particularly good at getting into spaces that a traditional tripod-mounted laser scanner can't see. Another major advantage is that the processing is done in near real-time on the Android tablet so that when you have finished scanning you have a point cloud on the tablet that you can visualize in 3D and verify that you've got everything you need before you leave the site. You can then download the point cloud from the DotProduct device to a laptop or other device running the same industry standard software for manipulating, analyzing measuring or visualizing the point cloud that you've always been using.
Kirk Knorr described how he successfully used the DotProduct device on a live engineering project. Another engineer from Bechtel reported that he had been using the device on live construction projects for a year and in his view the DotProduct and similar handheld devices are going to revolutionize how we do construction. He added that he foresees this happening very soon, within a year. Another engineer in the aerospace industry said that his company intended to get one of these devices into the hands of all of their technical staff.