All About 3D Data Capture

This is a new article series for Lidar News to be written by the team at point3D on a periodic basis, covering all things related to data capture. point3D provides 3D data capture laser consulting, sales, and training to end users, facility owners, and service providers to meet project needs and solve challenging problems.

Hand-Held Scans Enable A Quick Immersive Experience

What happens when you pair a gaming headset with color point cloud data and a walking virtual reality system? You get a life-like and cool immersive experience. When the headset is the Oculus Rift Gaming Headset, the point cloud – a DotProduct scan, and the virtual environment, the WorldViz Immersive Virtual Reality Wide Area Walking System; you get unexpected reality in an affordable, configurable virtual environment.

Brian Ahern, the CEO of DotProduct, got a dose of his own reality when he took a virtual tour through a mechanical pump room that was captured with his companys hand-held 3D scanner device, the DPI-7. Instead of zooming and panning on the screen, Brian was able to duck and dodge his way around the equipment and piping in the congested virtual pump room.

The point cloud had been originally captured with the DPI-7 3D scanner to document existing equipment and piping. The DP point cloud was optimized on the tablet, saved to an ASCII export format, and then transferred through Dropbox to the waiting user. The normal workflow is to load the scans in a CAD environment using a point cloud app such as LFM Server or Recap. Users would view the points as an overlay to their proposed design, viewing the screen in orthographic projection.

For a more intuitive experience, they could load the points in Navisworks or SmartPlant Review and perform a design review, stepping through the scene in a perspective view. If the users were lucky enough, they might even be viewing on a new Surface tablet and navigating with their fingertips. Flash forward to todays future, and you can now step into that point cloud, actually walk around the space, and stop to inspect a problem, or review the changes your designer has proposed.

The data for this case, the pump room, was provided to WorldViz in PTX and PTS format. The WorldViz engineers quickly created a 3D polygon mesh and published into their environment, turning a static review session into a virtual experience. The accompanying images are from a video that was captured of a World Viz engineer walking through an immersive 3D simulation of the pump room.

World Viz provides the platform for creating this experience through their Vizard VR Toolkit which integrates the mesh data with their PPT motion-tracking camera system. The view of the scene is projected onto the head-mounted display. The DotProduct data, captured in a relatively close distance, had amazing detail and did not pixelate as the user stepped closer.

The Oculus Rift head-mounted display was conceived for immersive gaming to provide a more natural and comfortable experience, in a stereoscopic 3D view. World Viz has extended this natural and comfortable experience into architectural, and defense applications. In the case of architectural design, you can literally walk through your design ideas in full scale and experience a stunning sense of being there.

What is truly amazing and unique is the rapid capture, in color point clouds, of the scene and the quick turnaround into an immersive, walkable scene. Leading design and construction management companies have begun to use this technology to present their vision and design for a new or renovated space. But now they can inspect an existing condition and try new ideas quickly, with amazing realism. For example, this might be utilized to consider the workspace-impact of adding an additional piece of equipment to a functioning hospital operating room. Or, it could be used to look at accessibility issues when adding a new filter to an existing pump station.

In the nuclear world, ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) is a basic radiation protection concept, or philosophy, that guides project work with the goal of reducing exposure. Two of the fundamental principles to reduce exposure are minimizing the time spent in a radiation field and maximizing the distance from the source. This is achieved by pre-job planning and training.

Now, envision being able to train by safely walking through the space ahead of time. Instead of reviewing the work plan from static drawing or images, the worker steps into the space. The same approach could be applied to any job with elevated risk, such as offshore platform work. You rapidly capture the scene or space with the hand-held scanner, and quickly turn it into an immersive training session. In configurations where the users experiences are projected on a screen, additional people can monitor and provide meaningful feedback.

About the Author

John Shipley

John O. Shipley... recently joined the point3D organization in the role of Sales and Support Manager. The point3D firm provides 3D data capture consulting, product sales, and product training to engineering and construction companies, service providers, and facility owners. John is a recognized expert in the 3D laser scanning industry with over 15 years’ experience managing data collection, processing and delivery. John has been involved in the development and implementation of multiple generations of 3D data-capture technology for one of the industry’s pioneers. As a Field Services Manager and Director of Operations, he was responsible for management of all operational departments including field services, data processing and CAD, which took him all over the world from the Middle East, to West Africa, South America and Asia. At point3D, John’s focus will continue to be the development and implementation of work processes for a variety of 3D data capture technologies, for the service provider, engineering company and facility owns alike. Customers in upstream and downstream oil & gas, chemical, manufacturing, nuclear and commercial building markets, can expect to benefit from the experience John and the team possess.
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