10 years ago scanners typically cost about $100,000, took significant time to set up, and created specialized data sets that required special software and powerful hardware to use the point clouds generated. Today some scanners are handheld, cost less than $5,000 and come with all the software needed to utilize the data. New, more powerful scanners that can capture high density point clouds rapidly and augment the scan with high resolution photography cost less than one quarter of the $100,000 figure from 10 years ago. The rapid drop in cost, the ease of setup, and the large improvement in software and hardware allow these point clouds to quickly be registered, measured, and converted into vector data sets that can significantly improve the efficiency of a construction project. In addition to this type of use the low cost, and ease of use has enticed firms to begin to capture more and more of the actuals from their teams by scanning an area weekly or in some cases even daily. Scanners are also being put to work to make sure that concrete slabs are perfectly flat and steel beams are properly formed.
New software that helps the scan become more useful is showing up as well. The ultimate goal would be if we could mix BIM and Point Clouds together in one environment that did not take special hardware or sophisticated software. Maybe that is next?
Don Henrich is an accomplished technology veteran in both the MCAD and the AEC industries. As Chief Operating Officer of Assemble he is responsible for strategic vision, sales, marketing, customer support, partners, and field operations. Don and his wife Noel have three children, reside in Marblehead, MA and spend as much time as possible sailing on Massachusetts Bay.
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