The technology and computing development are changing the course of our lives. Between access and sharing of information, the new generation of technologies strengthens social bonds and development, both personal and professional. The 3D reality capture is one of the advancements in the technological sphere that improves the quality of professional services and the progress of ACS projects. This process makes data generation possible by capturing and digitizing a physical space which can be an industrial site, a factory, a building or a forest. The statement obtained can then be used for construction, design, renovation or even simple visualization and maintenance. As technology advances, capturing reality has become more and more necessary for the realization of various projects by users who once would have called upon an expert.
The principle of 3D laser scanning
The point cloud takes shape thanks to several scans of physical space that must be aligned in order to represent reality as built as accurately as possible. This process is called “registration”. The scanners take line-of-sight measurements and operate multiple scans to put them together to create a digital twin of the environment.
In some cases, GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) technology such as GPS is used to properly align and superimpose scans using position data from scanners. However, some more complex situations make the use of GPS data impractical. In these cases, the computer software user analyzes the point cloud data and finds geometric similarities in physical space to align and overlay the different scans.
Two methods are then used to assembly these scans. The first is the use of targets, artificial objects reducible to points recognizable by the point cloud software. At least three targets are positioned at a specific location in the environment for at least two scans. The software user can then recognize the objects and align the scans to suit the reduced points targets. This technique takes longer to perform because it requires qualified personnel to put the targets in strategic locations and change them depending on the scans that must be performed. In addition, a variety of natural and man-made obstacles can be found within the environment scanned which complicates the task and requires more time and manpower.
The second method relies only on the use of software that assembles the scans without manually placed geometric landmarks. The process then requires rigor and thoroughness when superimposing the scans.
The way of scanning and the equipment employed do not matter much to obtain an analyzable and visualizable point cloud. 3D scanning is done the same way, but it is the processing of information that is different during the scanning phase. Each material has its specific utility. Some allow you to scan more accurately, others more quickly.
Land-based laser scanners or land-based LiDARs work by pulses of light to retrieve information about surfaces. The 3D data is then captured to form a point cloud. It is a better solution to scan indoor physical spaces, outdoor environment and difficult-to-view MEP components.
Mobile laser scanners are land surveying tools that use a mobile laser on the move, either mounted on a vehicle or transportable on foot. It is useful for faster scanning, while moving, simpler infrastructures because indeed, its precision is lower compared to that of a Land-based scanner.
Photogrammetry is a method that requires the use of drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and creates a geometric photo with a uniform scale where real distances can be measured like a map. These orthophotos collect information on hard-to-reach areas or to cover potential black points.
An essential technology for the development of AEC companies and industries
Before starting a renovation, the laser operates to scan the construction conditions to compare the actual environment to the design and facilitate project planning. It is a process that AEC companies particularly enjoy considering the capture of reality as essential in their design, construction projects and even in the relationship with their customers because the way projects are executed fundamentally changes and how to interact with customers as well. The reality capture is necessary to visualize the final project, perceive its added value and its potential to carry it out correctly.
A concrete example is that of Penn State University. University officials have expressed concern over the layout of their intramural climbing wall and construction materials. Then, they turned to reality capture to find solutions to their problem. They resized the wall and selected the most suitable products for its construction.
Many AEC companies are entering the realm of reality capture and promoting the use of 3D laser scanners for project execution. They deploy scanners with the aim of capturing environmental conditions and monitoring the progress of work in progress.
The point cloud acts as a central stone in the midst of all stakeholders in a project, giving them a way to simulate future work.
Ultimately, AEC companies rely on an accurate scan to help in modeling and decision making in the office or on the ground. It is a technology that benefits all stakeholders in a project.
This reality capture technique can be even more effective when combined with other solutions for data processing, analysis and point cloud mining.
Reality capture, combined with data mining, together form the miracle solution for AEC companies
Capturing reality, digitizing data and assembling a point cloud is not enough because there is no end user. To make sense of all this, you absolutely need tools and functionalities to extract data, generate information and transmit it. This is at this moment digitization makes sense and point cloud exploitation is real. Project planning and sharing of the data collected goes from two-dimensional to interactive by visualizing a point cloud in virtual reality,
Reality capture is becoming a norm for creators, designers and others in AEC, as new tools that develop immersive collaboration to increase engagement of stakeholders in all projects. It also becomes an added value for business solutions and creates links between companies, their users and their customers by allowing them to benefit from a fast, efficient, precise and more than reliable service.