GraphicsSpeak brings us the news that ClearEdge just won a nice NSF grant to be used to enhance their impressive laser scanning technology. The tech is amazing enough already, but thanks to this new funding they hope to make it even more so, letting you take your LIDAR/Laser scans and convert them automatically to 3D models with a minimum of fuss.
“Our focus has always been to develop software that can complete a 3D model in minutes with only a few mouse clicks,” said Chris Scotton, ClearEdge president and CEO. “This research grant brings the prospect of accurate city-wide 3D models one step closer to reality,”
via GraphicSpeak » ClearEdge3D wins National Science Foundation grant.
LiDAR data is always tricky to work with, requiring knowledge of arcane tools and all the various tricks of the sensors. Frequently left in the hands of experts, this frequently means the data is only made available for a mere fraction of it’s possible uses. Some new tools from Dielmo aims to change this with the power of the Cloud and modern web browsing.
Dielmo’s 3D LiDAR Points Client is open source software that allows the visualization of LiDAR point cloud data in 3D over the internet. Any user, expert or not in LiDAR data, will be able to display a point cloud in 3D online, choose a visualization mode (Height, Intensity, Classification, RGB) and to change the size of the points, all without having expert software for managing LiDAR data. It can easily be integrated in any web browser or GIS software.
via AmeriSurv.com – “Point Clouds in the Cloud:” Getting Lidar Out of Organizational Silos.
UC Davis has an effort to better visualize and analyze LiDAR Point Clouds that’s using some rather unorthodox approaches.
The challenge in visualizing and analyzing tripod LiDAR data is that data sets can contain hundreds of millions to billions of unstructured (scattered) 3D points, each with their (x, y, z) position and an associated intensity or color value. Although the sample points sample surfaces in the surveyed area, the data does not contain any relationships between points – the underlying surfaces have to be reconstructed from the point data alone. Our work focuses on developing software to visualize the “raw” LiDAR data as a cloud of 3D points with intensity or color values. We use an out-of-core multiresolution approach to visualize LiDAR data that is too big to fit into the computer’s main memory, at interactive frame rates of around 60 frames per second. Our software also contains tools to analyze LiDAR data, for example, an interactive selection tool to mark subsets of points defining a single feature, and algorithms to derive equations defining the shape of such features.
Previously, lots of research and computing power went into attempting to reconstruct the 3D models from these point clouds. It’s interesting to see a complete about-face in the industry as now they simply visualize the raw point-clouds, which has several advantages:
- Level of Detail is a breeze: Simply bin the points.
- Various size points can easily be generated via pixel/vertex shaders
- It’s a lot easier to add interpolated points if you zoom too close
Add in some interested fake-lighting effects and at a far enough distance (like the image above) you can’t even tell it’s nothing but points. I’ve seen this slowly growing over the last year or two, and at SuperComputing10 this year I even took part in a demonstration at the Idaho National Labs booth of not just LiDAR data but also incredibly high-resolution CT and MRI data.
Oliver Kreylos’ Research and Development Homepage – LiDAR Visualization.
Over at the University of Missouri, researchers have paired a remote controlled robot with a ‘light detections and ranging’ sensor (LIDAR) capable of capturing 500,000 datapoints per second and designed a system capable of processing and reconstructing 3D models from the captured data. The result is a remote data acquisition and visualization system perfect for search and rescue in dangerous terrain like the recent mine explosions.
Of course, this set-up won’t likely be limited to search-and-rescue missions. “This system could be used for routine structure inspections, which could help prevent tragedies such as the Minneapolis bridge collapse in 2007,” Duan says. “It also could allow the military to perform unmanned terrain acquisition to reduce wartime casualties.”
via Better software for rescue mission bots | Health Tech – CNET News.
Cnet has an article on the mapping company Navteq at CES. Navteq has started collecting lidar data using its own system which is called Navteq True. The idea is to construct 3-D models of cities in the the United States. When combined with other data, this will allow users to better navigate their surroundings. From the article:
The move spotlights the growing trend to create detailed computer models of the world through ground-based, aerial, and satellite photography. Second Life’s virtual world still attracts some users, but a computer representation of the real world is useful to a broader audience. GPS navigation devices are one obvious way, but people also increasingly use mobile phones to find out where they are and what’s nearby.
Just remember to use your head and not to follow your GPS blindly.
via : Navteq touts 3D laser mapping technology
Our good friend Eugene Liscio has spent some time trying out some fantastic point-cloud manipulation software from Alice Labs called “Studio Clouds”, and has written a great description and review of the system that we feature here. Also be sure to check out Eugene’s previous contributions.
3D scanning using LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) also known as High Density Surveying (HDS) is a rapidly growing domain with applications spanning across many industries such as aerospace, architecture, film and television, archaeology and forensics. The ability to capture millions and even billions of 3D points means that a vast amount of information can be known about a particular object or landscape. However, all this data comes at a price. There are relatively few software solutions that can easily handle and process billions points on a PC.
Today, PC hardware has made great advances to close the processing power gap, however when it comes to point clouds, it is the software and visualization tools that are still playing “catch up”. There have been several software programs supplied by 3D scanning equipment manufacturers in order to assist in filling the void, but this has mainly been targeted at the surveying market and only recently have developments been made to provide better visualization tools for other sectors of industry such as Forensics and Gaming.
One company that has had an interesting approach to solving these issues is the Dutch based company, Alice Labs. Their product, Studio Clouds offers a different paradigm in preparing, analyzing and visualizing point clouds. Their efforts have been focused in areas where other technologies have been lacking. Studio Clouds can process billions of points of data on a standard 32 or 64 bit PC with ease and it can also allow the import of these massive point clouds in 3DS Max and Maya.
Read the rest after the break.
A 1500 square kilometer LIDAR scan of London, taken at 1 meter resolution, has been loaded into Autodesk LandXplorer. It took four hours to process the Level of Details, but the result is a beautiful and fully interactive model of all of London.
Video after the break.