I enjoyed a busy and productive fall. The 58th Photogrammetric Week in Stuttgart in September1 featured unsurpassed syntheses of the latest technologies amidst the event’s venerable traditions. The audience was relieved to be back face-to-face. During the opening minutes of the event, we gravely shared conference chair Uwe Soergel’s sorrow at the passing of Fritz Ackermann. The system suppliers did a fine job presenting their wares during the redesigned, sharper demo sessions.
The following month, we were back in Germany. We had the privilege to be the guest of Rapidlasso GmbH on a trip to unravel details of the late Martin Isenburg and his company, providing even more than the tribute by Howard Butler published after Martin’s death2. We were accompanied by Jorge Delgado Garcia, professor of engineering cartography, geodesy and photogrammetry, Universidad de Jaén, Spain, and Nelson Mattie, CEO of LiDAR Latinoamérica, Santiago de Chile, Chile, and PhD candidate, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, Jorge and Nelson are enthusiastic practitioners who make extensive use of drones as well as LAStools software, especially in Latin America.
What a pleasure to be in the beautiful countryside east of Frankfurt! We were lodged in the town of Neu-Isenburg (not eponymous!) and drove to the idyllic, historic settlement of Sommerhausen, where Martin lived in the house of his mother, who died in 2007. We explored the tiny abode, noting Martin’s preference to work, eat and sleep in just the kitchen and living area, heated by an old, wood-burning stove, and the stack of conference badges from events Martin attended in the year or two before his death. His frugality and his wish to leave as little impact on the planet as possible were clear.
Sommerhausen lies on the river Main, just east of the border between Hesse and Bavaria. There Martin taught himself his paddleboard skills, later tweaked in more exotic climes. The town is in the Franken wine region—we relished the views of vines on sunlit hillsides as we walked from Martin’s home to his resting place in the town cemetery. After cremation in Sámara, Costa Rica, Martin’s remains were flown home and he is buried beside his mother. The simple stone bears their names, crafted in steel by Martin’s father, Dieter. His omnipresent coffee mug is embedded in the plants surrounding the stone.
The quiet, uncomplicated scene, as we stood, first in silence, then in discussion of Martin’s life, finally brought home to us that he has gone. His contributions live on, of course, in his writings and the Rapidlasso products, but his genius is with us no longer.
The company and the patents have been inherited by Dieter. With the help of Silke Kämmerer, Martin’s power-of-attorney for more than ten years, who stepped into the role of CEO after his passing, we are preparing an article that will tell Martin’s story in straightforward terms, putting to rest any rumors or exaggerations that may have been fueled over the years. This will also describe the Rapidlasso product line—LAStools, LASzip and BLAST—and the company’s ambitious plans for the future. So far, a new website has been constructed3, a customer database created afresh and various product improvements made, especially a new GUI and a Linux version of the code. We left Sommerhausen and prepared to travel to Essen for the massive Intergeo event, where the Rapidlasso booth played an important role in the ongoing efforts to make customer contact, provide reassurance and communicate that life won’t be the same without Martin, but the products are blossoming.
The annual INTERGEO trade show and conference took place in Essen, Germany, from 18 to 20 October 2022. Spanning three halls in the massive Essen Messe, the event attracted over 14,000 attendees from 102 countries and 457 exhibitors from 31 countries. The conference component of the event attracted 1000 registrants. The event was hybrid and there were 1800 remote attendees.
We enjoyed Essen, but especially appreciated the interaction4, face-to-face, with international friends and clients. Long may it continue. The 2022 attendance was below pre-covid levels, but we expect both the increased confidence in face-to-face meetings and the multiple attractions of Germany’s capital to rectify this in 2023. A few takeaways from this year’s event: MMS is mainstream; digital twins are center-stage; climate change angst is pervasive; stereoscopic viewing, shutters and image motion are being revisited; deep learning is in widespread use in practical ways, for example segmentation and object recognition in imagery or point clouds; the GNSS/IMU-camera-lidar-software value chain is being addressed by more and more companies—choose your solutions with care, but take the time to review a few options first.
Trimble Dimensions+ 2022
We weren’t home but a couple weeks before driving to Trimble Dimensions+ 2022 in Las Vegas. 1463 days: we were told at the start how long it was since we had last met. As in Stuttgart and Essen, attendees were delighted to be back, face-to-face once again. Trimble marketers and PR contractors took tremendous care of us gentlepersons of the press, so we learned a lot5.
The attendance was 5750, of whom around 1000 were from Trimble (all the ones I encountered were helpful, friendly and very competent in answering my questions), from 62 countries—the largest Dimensions ever. The 400+ sessions featured 574 speakers, 296 of them customers. The anticipation as we filed into the hall on the first morning felt like the Esri or Hexagon shows—praise indeed!
CEO Rob Painter kicked off the opening plenary. He’s a clean-cut, boyish looking, energetic management type with an MBA from Harvard. He became CEO in 2020—only the third in 44 years—and seems to be performing expertly. Trimble is prospering and continues to stress the importance of communicating its innovations to the community. While autonomous bulldozers and excavators are certainly Trimble’s forte, we in the LIDAR Magazine community should be delighted that the company, while recognizing that the geospatial world is tiny compared to construction and some of the other verticals in which Trimble prospers, emphasizes that geospatial people and technology are central to these markets’ success. As a result, it continues to develop a fine range of sensors, especially TLS and MMS laser scanners, underpinned by increasingly broad software offerings, which are now changing direction towards sharing and collaboration in the Cloud. Trimble proceeds with its series of well-judged acquisitions, resulting in skills and technologies that not only plug gaps but enhance and broaden the product portfolio. Long may it continue.
As we close out the year, our attention turns to Geo Week, slated for February 13-15 in Denver. Preparations are well underway for the latest iteration of our joint Lidar Leaders awards program which always proves exciting as the industry turns the page. Wishing you and yours the best of luck in 2023.