PointCab appoints new CTO & CMO

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PointCab appoints new CTO & CMO

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PointCab CEO and co-founder Dr. Richard Steffen has decided to strengthen the PointCab leadership with the appointment of a new CTO and CMO. 

Both picks are dedicated young professionals who have been with PointCab for a couple of years. Senior Developer Martin Graner, will be taking over the position of CTO from Dr. Richard Steffen. Global Marketing Manager Nicole Herber will fill the newly created role of CMO where she will take a more eclectic role in PointCab´s future endeavors. 

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Martin Graner, CTO

Steffen explains the decision as follows: “We are still nimble and lean yet not the small start-up we were ten years ago. With the company growing economically as well as in terms of a variety of new areas in the future to come, it is no longer feasible for me to fill the double role of CTO and CEO. Luckily, I have found a natural successor in my role as  CTO with Martin. He started working with PointCab in 2016 and has since proven himself time and time again. He’s a quick and strategic thinker and the knowledge he’s built up around our products over the years can easily compete with my own. He’s become a trusted voice in our decision-making process and has my full confidence. I’ve never thought the day would come of myself saying this, but undoubtedly with Martin taking on the task, I look forward to stepping down as CTO and dedicating my time fully to my role as CEO.”

 

Steffen continues: “I am also happy to say that I’m just as confident with Nicole as our new CMO. When she started as a Marketing Manager in 2019, I have to admit that I  treated our Marketing as more of an afterthought mainly working with external entities. Our COO Chris McAuliffe saw the need to change things up and hired her to build up our own Marketing Strategy on various levels. Since then, she not only did just that but also opened our eyes to what potential still lays ahead. That’s why we decided to strengthen our Marketing department with Nicole leading the change. From day one, she was full of ideas with the drive and can-do attitude to accomplish them. She’s proven to be a great mentor for her team and a strong sparring partner for our leadership team. “


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Nicole Herber, CMO

Concluding Dr. Richard Steffen notes: “With Martin and Nicole in their new leadership roles, I’m confident we have positioned ourselves well for the future. Their appointments allow us to further grow, while simultaneously strengthening our existing teams and structures. As an employer, we strive to provide the opportunity and mentorship for our employees to achieve their full potential. 

2022: Recap & Round-up

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2022: Recap & Round-up

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Introductory remarks

2022 was yet again a troubling year when it comes to world events.
At the beginning of the year, everyone was looking forward to the pandemic fading and everyday life resuming more or less the way it was before. However, a rude awakening came with the start of the assault on Ukraine in February. As the year continued, more crises followed like the fight for freedom in Iran and natural disasters like wildfires all around the world or the devastating floods in Pakistan.

As a company, some of these events affected our economic situation and our business. However, what affected us, the people behind the company, more was the human suffering behind those events.

So before we give you the 2022 recap for the company PointCab, we as the PointCab team would like to acknowledge our privilege to be able to work and live freely and unharmed in 2022, while so many others did not. Our heart goes out to the people of Ukraine, Iran, Pakistan, and all others who have to endure loss, suffering, sickness, and tragedy.
May 2023 bring you peace, relief, and hope.

New Releases: Nebula

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We’ll start our recap not chronologically but with one of our more recent releases: PointCab Nebula. For the first time in our company’s history, we have developed a new product that is designed to be used independently from our desktop application and main product Origins. Granted, we’re not fully there yet. At the moment Nebula users still rely on Origins to create point cloud projects fit for upload into the Nebula cloud solution. However, we are dedicated to transforming Nebula from a platform for sharing and managing point cloud data to your all-in-one tool with point cloud processing abilities. So stay tuned!

New Releases: CAD Plugins

While releasing a new major product might be enough work done in one year for many, it’s not for us. That’s why we also expanded our product portfolio with 3 new plugins in 2022. The 4Autocad plugin was released first in May. Since Autocad is one of the most popular CAD software on the market, we felt it was time to provide a more simple point cloud workflow. 

Just 3 months later, the 4ZWCAD plugin followed. During the whole development process, we were supported by the ZWSOFT team, which resulted in a plugin perfectly adapted to the needs of ZWCAD users. When ZWSOFT invited us to speak at ZWORLD in Italy to present the plugin it was received very positively by ZWCAD users and dealers alike.

Last but not least and just in time for Christmas, the 4Archicad plugin was released at the request of our customers. Thanks to their input and feedback, we were able to release yet another plugin that seamlessly fits into the CAD workflow.

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Events in 2022

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Thanks to the pandemic calming down, we’ve managed to resume a full schedule of live events again in 2022. 

Highlights include the Geoweek in Denver, digitalBAU in Cologne, and Intergeo in Hannover. However, we were also fortunate enough to be invited to wonderful events by our partners like Viakom’s sailing trip, GeoSLAMs Germany Tour, and many more. 

Attending these events has been a pleasure all around and we can’t wait to see more of this in 2023.

 

Partnerships: New & Old

Speaking of our partners, we are happy to report that we have added a few in 2022 but also made some changes. Due to a strategic reorientation of both companies, we have decided in mutual agreement that BIMm Solutions and PointCab will go their own ways from now on. However, we will of course continue to help all customers with PointCab 4BIMm licences and BIMm solutions will do the same.

When it comes to new partnerships in 2022, Viakom is probably the most prominent one. Viakom is now our biggest software partner and provides the secure cloud & hosting infrastructure for PointCab Nebula. Furthermore, ZWSOFT has officially added us as their software partner for third-party ZWCAD applications. Reseller-wise, we are happy to announce that Stonex has joined our network internationally. There would be a lot more to report about more resellers who joined us, more software partners who have opened up their workflow to ours, and established partnerships being further nurtured. However, this would exceed the limits of our little recap here.

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Whats left to say?

We like to thank all of you, our followers, customers, and partners for your continued support. Because of you, we have had a successful business year which has succeeded our expectations. Thanks to you, we are able to continue our mission to further facilitate point cloud processing &handling.

Thank you very much & see you again in 2023!

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PointCab Nebula – the cloud solution for point cloud data

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New independent cloud solution for point cloud data
– PointCab Nebula

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Capturing point cloud data provides us with one key advantage compared to more traditional means of surveying – complete 3D information. However, it comes at a price. No matter how well-compressed some data formats are nowadays, point cloud data eats up a lot of space. Therefore, the storage and sharing of point cloud data have become a pressing issue for those who rely on it. For this reason, PointCab and Viakom have developed a cloud solution specifically tailored to point cloud data – PointCab Nebula. 

PointCab Nebula is an independent cloud solution that supports all prevalent 3D scanners and CAD programs. The solution consists of two components: the Nextcloud-based Nebula plugin and the Nebula web viewer. 

Viakom’s  Managed Nextcloud serves as the technical framework. As such, it was not chosen by chance but rather because it permits the integration of further services from other providers. As a result, it holds great potential for the end-user, who could possibly connect further services such as CAD and GIS connections to their cloud. In its Nebula configuration, the Nextcloud offers all the advantages expected from a collaborative cloud-based platform. The core functions are the storage, sharing, and exchange of various data types such as documents, tables, and images. Of course, the user can decide which files are shared with whom and for how long. The entire cloud infrastructure is provided by IONOS and Viakom as development and operating partners. Since both companies are based in Germany, the data is stored and protected according to ISO-27001-certification and EU-GDPR standards  – one of, if not the highest standards for data protection in the world.

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The PointCab Nebula plug-in is designed for the Nextcloud. It combines all those functionalities mentioned above with additional tools tailored to handling point cloud data in the cloud. In its first version, Nebula is able to manage point cloud projects online in the cloud and visualize them in the web viewer in the browser. The user/recipient of the data does not have to download the data to use it. Layouts and sections, panoramic images, and a 3D view of the point cloud can be inspected online. In addition, it allows the user to take simple measurements such as 3D points and distances in the browser as well. Currently, Nebula users still rely on PointCab’s desktop application Origins to create projects suitable for upload to Nebula. However, PointCab and Viakom are working on detaching Nebula from the PointCab desktop application Origins and establishing it as an independent software solution.  This should enable the processing of point cloud data directly in the cloud for a broad user base in the future.

“Our vision is to create an independent cloud platform that meets the needs of those who work with point cloud data on a daily basis. In doing so, we want to guarantee users full freedom and data sovereignty. “, says Richard Steffen, CEO of PointCab. “With the IONOS Cloud, this goal is realized. The high scalability and the high-security standard of the European cloud set Nebula apart from other solutions.”, explains Tim Kartali Head of Channel Sales at IONOS. “Furthermore, it also enables an open exchange with alternative offers and services which is a huge benefit for the user” adds Matthias Damerow from Viakom.

In its current version, Nebula is particularly attractive to existing PointCab customers who wish for an affordable and easy-to-use solution for the web-based sharing of projects. However, for those who do not yet hold an Origins license but are in need of a solution like this, it is worthwhile to get started thanks to the PointCab early adopter offer. It is valid until the end of the year and includes PointCab Nebula, 500 GB of storage space, and an Origins subscription at an excellent price. Of course, additional data storage can be acquired at any time. 

More information about the special deals can be found in the PointCab Shop.

 

National Surveyors Week – background and trivia

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NATIONAL SURVEYORS WEEK - BACKGROUND AND TRIVIA

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In the United States National Surveyors Week is celebrated every year starting on the third Sunday of March. The week is dedicated to surveyors and is intended to honor and educate the profession. While it started out in the US, National Surveyors Week is nowadays celebrated by many around the globe. This year, we like to honor the occasion by giving you a little background info and trivia.

Since the beginning of recorded history, surveyors have been instrumental in advancing society. The construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza in 2700 BC is one of the earliest examples in the history of land surveying. Surveying is also used in transportation, communications, mapping, and establishing legal boundaries for land ownership. Many scientific disciplines also use this important tool for research.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 54,800 surveyors in the United States. They have expertise in:

– Geometry / Trigonometry,
– Regression analysis
– Physics, Meteorology
– Engineering
– Programming languages
– Law

While the fundamentals of surveying have remained the same, the surveying instruments today are much more technologically advanced than in the past. Drones and lasers have now replaced most of the work done with a telescope on a tripod. Remote sensing and satellite imagery are becoming more accurate and affordable, so they are used more and more these days. Probably the most important new technology in recent years is three-dimensional scanning (3D laser scanning).

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History of National Surveyor Week

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The first National Surveyors Week was proclaimed on February 13, 1984 by the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM). In addition, the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, signed a Presidential Proclamation urging citizens to recognize professional surveyors and their remarkable contributions. There are many famous land surveyors who have played a major role in the history of the settlement of North America. George Washington, the first recognized land surveyor, is probably the most famous of them all. 

Current use of laser scanning

Today, there are numerous industries that have discovered laser scanning for themselves. The advantages are obvious: laser scanning makes it possible to create a precise digital image of reality – the digital twin.  

This is why PointCab Origins is also used in various sectors. We have compiled a selection of industries in which laser scanning is used. Common areas of application are:

– Architecture
– Heritage
– Construction (As Built)
– Industrial plants
– Surveying
– Craftsmanship

 This is also how our PointCab Origins point cloud software is used in various fields.

Want to learn more? Then check out these links:

National Society of Professional Surveyors website:  https://www.nsps.us.com/
Washington as Public Land Surveyor: https://www.loc.gov/collections/george-washington-papers/articles-and-essays/george-washington-survey-and-mapmaker/washington-as-public-land-surveyor/

Initiative to win over young talent: https://www.getkidsintosurvey.com/

PointCab Origins trial version: https://pointcab-software.com/en/point-cloud-software/trial-version/ 

As-built – what does it mean?

As-built model

AS-BUILT – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

“As-built” – anyone involved in architecture and the construction industry will sooner or later come across this term. It is almost always linked with documentation. But what does as-built documentation actually comprise? How is it created and what is it needed for? There is no legal or regularitory definition of the term. Even within the industry, there may be different opinions when it comes to the definition and scope of a as-built documentation. Despite this, or rather precisely because of this, we will try to clarify all the questions surrounding as-built documentation in this article.

As-built documentation vs. construction drawing - what is the difference?

As-built documentation is documentation of the actual state of a building or construction project. A construction drawing, on the other hand, shows the planned state of a project. Anyone who has already been involved in a construction project knows that there can be considerable differences between the planning and the result. In order to obtain realistic documentation of the project, it is necessary to carry out as-built documentation in addition to the construction drawing. 

As-built model

Starting as early as possible: Documentation of construction progress

So does it make sense to simply create as-built documentation after the project is finished? Of course, the finished project should be fully documented. However, it is even better to start much earlier. Especially with larger projects, it is advisable to document the various stages of the construction progress. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand, it allows all those involved to be kept up to date on the progress of construction.

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Even more important, however, is the comparison with the construction drawing and the planning. This way, possible complications can be recognized at an early stage and dealt with accordingly. After each construction step, costs can be adjusted if necessary, new permits can be obtained, materials can be exchanged, the statics can be recalculated, and so on. This makes it easier to avoid unpleasant surprises and cost explosions.

Of course, final as-built documentation should also be carried out after the project has been completed, and it is also worthwhile to acquire it for already existing structures. On the basis of the as-built documentation, subsequent conversion measures or installations can be planned and carried out. In addition, it provides important information for disaster control and rescue forces in case of an emergency.

How is as-built documentation created?

The purpose of as-built documentation is therefore clear. The question that arises next is how it should be carried out and what exactly it should contain. Regardless of whether the construction progress is to be documented or a project that has already been completed, the first thing to do is to create a accurate reality capture. Nowadays, depending on the size of the project, this is done by means of laser scanning and/or drone flights. If you work with a laser scanner, it generates a point cloud that must first be processed and evaluated with special software. Point clouds can also be generated from drone flights with special software such as Pix4D. With our Origins software for example, sections, floor plans and much more can be quickly created from the point cloud data. Data processed in this manner can then be imported into the CAD system, where a model of the project is created.


But a reality capture and a simple 3D model are often not sufficient for as-built documentation. Depending on the requirements, further information must be included in the documentation and there is also a lot to consider when creating the 3D model. 

For instance, the level of detail, or LOD for short, plays an important role in 3D modelling. For example, should the valves of water systems be modelled down to the smallest detail or is it sufficient to roughly represent them in the correct position and orientation? Such questions should already be clarified and discussed with the modeller before the documentation is created. The modeller can determine in a personal conversation which LOD level is required for your project. There is no industry standard for the accuracy of as-built documentation. This is not least due to the fact that a higher degree of accuracy is associated with additional costs, which of course one does not want to bear if it is not needed for the project in question.

Another point that must be taken into account is additional information. For example, should the material of the floor, doors, windows, etc. also be documented? Which window model is used? Should invoices and static certificates be stored? These questions must also be clarified and the scope must be determined before preparing as-built documentation.

LOD


Ultimately, the scope and accuracy of as-built documentation always depends on your individual requirements. In general, however, it can be said that at least a rough digital reality capture by means of laser scanning is always useful.This way, errors can be avoided in the construction phase and possible subsequent construction work can be implemented more easily.

Do you have any further questions about as-built documentation or point cloud evaluation? Then write to us or call us under: +4971539295930.

Our support team will be happy to advise you!

 

PointCab Mobile Mapping Weeks

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POINTCAB MOBILE MAPPING Weeks

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Learn how to harness the power of Origins with GeoSLAM, NavVis or Emesent.

Between  December 7th and 16th, we are hosting special webinars together with these 3 mobile mapping providers to show you the different mobile mapping workflows with Origins.

Register now!

 

EMESENT WEBINAR: FROM POINT CLOUDS TO CAD DRAWINGS

Dezember 7th, 9.30AM (CET)

Emesent’s Hovermap solution shows its strength when it comes to terrain that is difficult to access. Mounted on a drone, the intelligent mobile mapping solution autonomously scans the area using LIDAR. In this webinar, we will show you how to get the most out of Hovermap data with Origins.

 

NAVVIS WEBINAR: IMPROVING CAD WORKFLOWS WITH MOBILE MAPPING TECHNOLOGIES

Dezember 9th, 5.30PM (CET)

In this webinar, Pascal Groothedde explains how he, as a NavVis user, uses Origins in daily practice to transfer his data into the CAD system. He presents one of his projects and shows us how his workflow works. Martin Graner (PointCab) and Frieder Kirn (NavVis) will also be on hand to share tips and tricks on mobile mapping with Origins + NavVis.

 

GEOSLAM WEBINAR: MOBILE MAPPING - EASY, SIMPLE AND EFFECTIVE SCAN TO CAD

Dezember 16th, 11.00AM (CET)

Our Origins solution is perfectly adapted to the workflow with GeoSLAM devices. So well, in fact, that Origins has been integrated with GeoSLAM as a OEM software under the name GeoSLAM Draw. In this webinar, our experts show you step by step how to transfer your GeoSLAM data into your CAD system and how Draw helps you with this.

Laser scanning technology helps preserve and repurpose a historic masonry building in Crete

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Laser scanning technology helps preserve and repurpose a historic masonry building in Crete

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Postgraduate students at the Technical University of Crete used a combination of a Trimble Laser Scanner, PointCab Origins Pro, and Autocad to obtain and document the exact geometry of a historic masonry structure with the purpose of its structural rehabilitation.

The island of Crete, Greece is known for its beautiful landscape and rich history. It’s the birthplace of the first European advanced civilization, the Minoans, and was shaped by the Mycenaeans, Romans, Osmans, and many more. The traces of these cultures can still be found all across the island in different archeological remains.

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One of them is a two-century-old residential masonry, built during the Osman rule. It has been abandoned for the last 70 years and is the former residence of the wealthy Seimeni family. As one of the few remaining buildings of that type of local architecture in the region, it bears great historic value. In order to preserve and repurpose the building, exact documentation of its geometry was required, among other factors, in order to assess its structural integrity and the degree of necessary strengthening interventions. The building is planned to be restored in the next years and to be used as a local folk art museum.

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Postgraduate student Eirini Chorianopoulou, supervised by Professors Maria Stavroulaki and Nikos Skoutelis decided to exploit the benefits of the latest laser scanning technology available. Since there were parts of the building that could not be approached and a distant measurement technique was needed, using simpler tools and techniques would not suffice. Therefore, an accurate digital representation of the building in its condition before the restoration could be captured. 

This will give future visitors the chance to understand and compare the prior and current state and appreciate the work that will be done in order to preserve the authenticity of the structure after its restoration. With the purpose to obtain the geometric properties of the structure, the Trimble X7 3D laser scanner was employed. A number of 25 scans were used to generate the point cloud. All the data was imported as e57 format files and edited in PointCab Origins Pro. Accurate plans, sections, and elevations of the structure were created at all necessary levels and were exported as .dwg files for further editing in Autocad. Postgraduate researcher Evangelos Nitadorakis, responsible for handling the point cloud evaluation, found himself satisfied with the results that the use of PointCab’s Origins software provided: 

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“The accuracy of the generated sections allowed the identification and quantification of pathology indicators such as wall inclinations not visible with the human eye and remote measurements in parts of the structure that are not easily accessible. In addition, the delta analysis tool helped to distinguish even the slightest deviations in vertical levels. Furthermore, with a proper combination of all the data from Origins, an exact 3D model of the structure was created in a FEM analysis software and structural and dynamic analysis were conducted in order to assess the fragility of the structure under various loading cases. Employing PointCab Origins, we appreciated the easy handling, the speed of data processing, and the quality of the outcomes.”

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Lidar Community mourns the death of Martin Isenburg

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LIDAR COMMUNITY MOURNS THE DEATH OF MARTIN ISENBURG

Martin Isenburg was an outstanding software developer, bright mind and pioneer in the field of lidar and topographic data processing. As the father of the .las/.laz format, he helped to simplify the exchange of point cloud data worldwide and thus leaves a great legacy. His LAStools have also been popularly and frequently used throughout the LIDAR sector and his open source LiDAR compressor LASzip has become the de facto industry standard for compressed LiDAR. 

Martin has always been willing to share openly with others and has been a promoter and driver of new innovations and ideas. Individual members of our team have also had frequent exchanges with Martin and will greatly miss the stimulating conversations we had together.

It was with great dismay that we learned that Martin succumbed to his battle with bipolar disorder and suicide last week. The world thus loses a great thought leader and an outstanding personality. We mourn together with his family, friends and loved ones.

We urgently appeal to all those who are themselves struggling with mental illness to overcome the social stigma around it and turn to specialised support services

PointCab signs Petition for Open Point Cloud Formats

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POINTCAB SIGNS PETITION FOR OPEN POINT CLOUD FORMATS

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The eternal problem with converting

When working with point cloud data, users still have to jump back and forth between different data formats. Using different software solutions or even sharing data often requires conversion to open formats such as .e57. The constant conversion of data consumes time, resources, and storage capacity. In addition, this process often leads to a loss of information. 

Although these problems are well known, the market has not yet reacted. Shouldn’t we be glad that open formats like .las, .laz, or .e57 exist at all? It is true that before these formats were published, there was practically no way to pass on point cloud data to other systems in a meaningful way. In the meantime, however, this solution is simply no longer practicable. 

While the computing power for point cloud processing has increased significantly over the years, the volume of data has also grown considerably.  More and more points and additional information are being collected to produce more precise and reliable results. However, higher data volumes also mean a longer conversion times. Time that cloud surely be used more efficiently. In addition, the .e57 format – the industry standard – is compressed rather poorly and requires much more storage capacity than other formats. Heavy point cloud users will quickly run into a storage problem that will also put a strain on their wallets. Similar problems occur with data transfer. Downloading a point cloud project might take serval hours.

 

The solution

But what can be done in practice to combat these problems? The solution is actually fairly obvious. If all software on the market were able to read the native formats of the various laser scanners and software directly and, in the best case, also write them, the age of constant conversion would be a thing of the past. This would be technically possible without much hassle. So why is it not happening?

In order for a software to be able to read other point cloud formats, you need a so-called Software Development Kit (SDK) from the manufacturer. Some manufacturers, such as RIEGL, already make their SDK available to other applications.  Unfortunately, there are still many other manufacturers who do not yet provide SDKs and so the user is still forced to convert their data.

 

The petition

The petition for open point cloud formats therefore calls on manufacturers who have not yet made an SDK available to do so. This would not only be in the interest of the end user. Research and even the manufacturers themselves would also benefit. That is why we have signed the petition and plan to make an SDK for our own .lsd format available soon. 

If you also think that something has to change, then join us with your voice and sign the petition too.

 

What are point clouds?

Punktwolke point-cloud

WHAT ARE POINT CLOUDS?

Here’s an easy-to-understand introduction to the topic of point clouds. We answer the following questions:

Basics: What is a point cloud and how is it created?
What are point clouds used for?
How to work with point clouds? 

Punktwolke point-cloud

Basics: What is a point cloud and how is it created?

A point cloud can best be explained with the help of a gadget that reached the peak of its popularity in the 00s and is now primarily used for presentations: the laser pointer. The laser pointer can be used to illuminate a precise point in a straight line. If you know exactly where the laser pointer is located in the room, you can also exactly locate the point that is being illuminated. After all, the laser beam is straight as a die and thus makes it possible to calculate the exact position of the point in space in relation to the origin (the laser pointer). Geodetic points in surveying are also measured according to this basic principle, only it’s a little more complex. Instead of a laser pointer, special tachymeters are used for this purpose. 

And what does this have to do with point clouds? Quite simple. In addition to total stations, laser scanners have been used more and more frequently for surveying in recent years. These also work in the same way as our laser pointer, except that they can measure thousands or even millions of points simultaneously. Taken together, all the measured points constitue the point cloud. 

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What are point clouds used for?

Point clouds contain an incredible amount of information because every single point in the point cloud has its own X, Y, and Z coordinates. If we scan a staircase with a laser scanner, for example, we can use the resulting point cloud to determine exactly how straight the individual steps are, where the steps are worn and how high the deviation from the construction standard is. Accordingly, laser scanners and the point clouds they produce are always used when you want to document existing structures precisely, for example to digitise, measure or modify them. 

 

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For the design and optimization of production parts, for example in the automotive industry, very high-resolution hand-held scanners are usually used. They can capture even the smallest details and deviations. This allows a digital twin to be created on the PC. With the help of the twin, new prototypes can then be created and improvements digitally simulated and tested.

In the construction industry and as-built documentation of buildings, various scanners are used. Depending on the object, mostly terrestrial or mobile laser scanners, sometimes even drones. They are used to scan buildings for a variety of reasons, e.g. to plan an extension or renovation, to optimally position new equipment in production buildings, or to document the construction progress of various building projects. 

These are just a few examples of applications. Point clouds are used wherever objects need to be precisely captured and digitized. Depending on the area of application, different laser scanners are used. They can produce different accuracies and point cloud sizes. 

 

How to work with point clouds?

How to work with point clouds depends above all on what goal you are pursuing. As already mentioned, different laser scanners are used for different areas of application. The same applies to the software used to evaluate the point clouds. Our software solution, Origins (Pro), for example, is mainly used when existing buildings or landscape structures are to be digitally captured.

Regardless of which hardware and software solutions are used, there is an important step between the acquisition and the evaluation of the point cloud data: the registration.

 

Point Cloud Registration

During registration, individual scans or individual “sections” that were captured with the laser scanner are merged into a point cloud. If you want to register a complete building, for example, you often set up the laser scanner in the different rooms and scan them. Of course, in the end, you don’t only want to have individual scans of the different rooms. You prefer simply one large point cloud in which all the scans are available and linked together. To achieve this, you have to register the scans.

Behind the registration usually stands a rather complicated mathematical process. The accuracy of the data produced by the registration depends on how well the laser scanner captured the environment on site and how reliable the registration software used is. Fortunately, this process has become easier and easier in recent years. If you use a mobile laser scanner, for example, you often no longer have to make individual scans. You can simply walk through or around the object with the scanner. With this type of scanner, registration is also usually fully automatic and provided together with the hardware. The user does not need much know-how. The disadvantage here, however, is that mobile laser scanners are currently often not able to deliver as precise results as terrestrial laser scanners, i.e. scanners that are set up stationary and take individual scans one after the other.

 

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There are different methods to register a point cloud. The best known are cloud-to-cloud registration, target-based registration, or plane-to-plane registration. Which method to use depends on many different factors, e.g. the laser scanner used, the desired accuracy, or your own preferences. Especially for newcomers, it is, therefore, advisable to have the scanning and registration carried out by experts. They not only register the point cloud but also “clean” it in most cases during the registration process. This means, for example, that duplicate scans or “noisy” areas of the point cloud are removed or the point cloud is professionally “thinned out” to reduce the file size.

 

Importing, processing, and passing on point cloud data

If you receive registered point cloud data, there is usually one more stumbling block to overcome before you can take measurements and create digital 3D models from the data – importing the data. 

There is not just one file format for point clouds. In general, each laser scanner works with its own file format. Different software for processing are often using their own formats as well. As a result, there is hardly any software that can import all native file formats from the different laser scanners and processing software. We are very proud that our Origins (Pro) software can read and import over 25 different point cloud formats and export over 20 different formats (point cloud formats and others). However, even though we provide one of the greatest diversities on the market, it still doesn’t represent all native data formats. So what is the best way to deal with the different file formats?

Open exchange formats such as .las, .laz, .e57 or .xyz offer a solution to this problem. These file formats were developed by independent parties to solve the problem of data transfers. The .e57 format in particular has virtually become the industry standard. Almost all registration software of the laser scanner manufacturers can output the format and processing software for point clouds can also read the format. Therefore, in most cases, the surveyor will hand over the point cloud in .e57 format.

The disadvantage here is that the .e57 format, in contrast to the native formats, is less well compressed. Therefore it requires more storage capacity in comparison. However, the large amounts of data are normally no problem for point cloud software. After all, they were developed specifically for the processing and evaluation of point clouds. They can be used to carry out measurements and other evaluations. With Origins (Pro), for example, you can also create automatic floor plans that can be vectorized and much more

 

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However, if you want to create a 3D model from the point cloud, you need to employ a BIM or CAD software. These were not originally developed to handle point cloud data. Accordingly, many of these software still have major problems processing the data. Some CAD software, such as Autodesk Revit or AutoCAD, cannot read .e57 or other common point cloud formats. In order to use these software, the data must be converted again into the Autodesk formats .rcp or .rcs. Other CAD software cannot read point cloud data at all or can only import small amounts of data at once, which means that the point cloud has to be “split” again and imported in parts. These are all very tedious and time-consuming tasks.

To avoid this effort, the data is often first pre-processed in a point cloud software and then further processed in the CAD software. For example, Origins (Pro) can be used to create floor plans and vector lines, which can then be transferred to the CAD software in the correct position and with all the important 3D information in .dfx or .dwg format. These formats can be processed by almost any CAD software and require much less storage capacity than the entire point cloud. Of course, there are now also plugins for the most common CAD software that can transfer the 3D information from the point cloud software directly to the CAD software.

In conclusion, it can be seen that the acquisition and processing of point clouds, right up to the creation of a 3D model, still requires a great deal of expertise and know-how. Especially the amount of data and the data exchange between the different systems is still a challenge. Fortunately, a lot has already been done in recent years to simplify this process, also known as scan-to-BIM. We are also working every day to be able to import more data formats into our software and to simplify the handling so that even beginners can work with point clouds.

Do you have any further questions about point clouds or would you like to test our software yourself? Feel free to send us an e-mail to: support@pointcab-software.com. We would be happy to advise you in a personal meeting without obligation.