From the EditorThe 3D Revolution: Join the Community

A 348Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

A warm welcome to the inaugural issue of the LiDAR News digital magazine, or what we internally call the "flippy." As you read on and experience this high-impact format, you will see what we mean. The first item of business is to thank all of the people who have made this new and exciting platform possible. This includes you, the loyal readers/supporters of LiDAR News, the advertisers, the contributing authors, plus Marc and Allen Cheves, who had the vision and determination to make this happen.

I want to also take this opportunity to thank my son and nephew who encouraged me to start the LiDAR News blog, when I didn’t know what a blog was. Two years and 750+ posts later I have learned a lot about the power of digital media. I continue to be amazed at the compliments I receive from readers around the world who tell me that LiDAR News keeps them informed and helps them to feel like a part of the LiDAR/laser scanning community, no matter what country they live in.

Now if you are reading this on your iPad, "AndroidPad" or smart phone then you already know that you are looking into the future. Tablets are the next mega-wave of technology that I believe will have the same kind of impact as the handheld calculator or the cell phone. Eventually most of us are going to own one.

The reason I say that is in part because, as most of you would guess, I am an early adopter. I would assume that many of you are also in that category and therefore you know the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" that goes along with this approach to life.

When I reflect back on my youth I don’t remember being in the rocket club, or being any more interested in new products or ideas than any of my friends, but I do remember my first transistor radio like it was yesterday–maybe that was the start of it. Or maybe it was all the pain of using my slide rule for 4 years to get a BS in civil engineering, or maybe using a 200′ steel tape to run a traverse through the woods and swamps of New Hampshire for a 100-acre parcel, only to come back to the office and have to use log tables to comp it up.

Whatever it was, throughout my professional career it seems as though I have always wanted to get involved with the hot, new, in most cases digital technology. From the first HP desktop computer that used magnetic cards to load the programs, to the little TI 55, the HP EDM, the combined Kern theodolite and distance meter, the Topcon total stations, GPS (I hold two patents) and now laser scanning, the one common thread has been the application: surveying and mapping.

Actually, although all of these disruptive devices that I have named represent hardware breakthroughs, it is the software industry–CAD, GIS and remote sensing–where I have spent the last 20 years working with organizations to help them adopt these game-changing technologies.

The fact is LiDAR News is not my first publication. In the 1980s I used to mail out about 1500 GIS Review newsletters throughout New England and in the 1990s I was the founding editor of Softdesk’s Tech Talk which grew to a circulation of 60,000+, helping to build that company into the leading AEC software for AutoCAD. I guess it’s in my blood.

But that was then, so what’s next? There is no question that we are in the 3D Decade, both professionally and on the consumer side. Although the early adopters would argue that 3D has been around for 20+ years, I think it is fair to say that it is only now becoming mainstream, and in fact I think it is going to take the rest of the decade for 3D to be fully embraced. I wouldn’t mind be wrong about that, but I am afraid there is just too much inertia built into the 2D way of thinking and doing business, both technically, and more important, on the human resource front.

I guess that can be an advantage for those who can extract the value out of making the early shift to 3D workflows. Of course this is where 3D laser scanning and LiDAR come in. 3D laser scanning, I believe, should be thought of as an enabling technology, not as a business itself. The key is to use laser scanning to creatively solve 3D problems for paying customers. Ask the veterans.

So what other major trends should we be tracking? I already mentioned the tablet. The other BIG trend I see is the cloud. Now imagine if you get all three–laser scanning, the tablet and the cloud–connected. There is no doubt that this is going to happen and I am sure some very early adopters are already making it happen.

To wrap things up, the goal with LiDAR News is simple: we want to keep you informed and feeling like you are a part of the laser scanning/LiDAR community. But the beauty of these digital media platforms is that it can be a two-way street. That is, you can keep me informed, and many of you do.

In a recent meeting with Ken Smerz from Precision 3D Scanning Ken said, "You are like the cow with the bell." Since I never really liked cows (too smelly) I had to think about that for a minute but then realized it was quite a compliment. So I will be working to keep you informed and if I miss something, please let me know. There is a lot of runway here.

Thanks for your ongoing support and please let us know what you think of the "flippy."

A 348Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

About the Author

Gene V. Roe

Gene V. Roe Ph.D., P.E., PLS... I have over 40 years of experience in the surveying and mapping field. I am a registered Professional Engineer, Professional Land Surveyor and hold a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering. I have taught surveying and civil engineering at the University of New Hampshire, built a 50 person survey engineering firm, and in 1985 founded the first GIS consulting group in New England. In the early 90's I shifted into the software development business where I have focused on CAD/GIS integration, while helping to build successful start ups like Softdesk and Blue Marble Geographics. I hold two US patents for a GPS-based, personal navigation device. I have also worked in the remote sensing arena where I was part of the highly successful development of the ultra-compact, Buckeye LiDAR/digital camera system, currently being used by the military to search for IED's. Most recently I have focused on 3D laser scanning, where I led the effort at Autodesk to integrate this technology into their graphics' engines. As the Chair of the ASTM E57.04 data interoperability subcommittee I am leading a team that is developing a standard data exchange for terrestrial laser scanners. I am also the ACSM delegate to FIG Commission 8 - Spatial Planning and Development.
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