2015 in Review: Who Innovated, Who Dropped the Ball

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Well, another year has zoomed by and I find myself wondering about the old saying “don’t drop the ball,” which means don’t make a blunder or fail in some way. For me this time of year is a time of reflection, looking back at what I was able to accomplish, as well as to examine some of the year’s shortcomings. I suppose it is my own form of augmented reality. Of course this is all done in an effort to learn what worked and what didn’t, before embarking on a fresh start to an exciting, prosperous new year (fingers crossed). Perhaps you find yourself doing something similar? In going through this annual exercise I thought I’d also take a quick look at what I thought are a couple notable industry highlights of 2015.

INNOVATION

  • Hardware 
    I think one of the most innovative developments of the year was the introduction of Leica Geosystems’ new line of ScanStations; namely the P30 & P40. With a stated maximum scan rate of 1 million pts/sec and a range of 120m – 270m respectively, as well as HDR imagery, these instruments can really “go the distance.” The thing that impressed me the most though, is the ability to scan in harsh elements such as extreme heat and cold as well as the rain. Although, I have to admit I still get nervous watching the scanner go through the hose test. When work comes in the door the last thing anyone wants is to be shut down by the weather

  • Conferences
    First quarter saw a new conference on the scene, Autodesk’s REAL Conference in San Francisco.  The conference was focused on a broad topic – Reality Computing. In talking with many of my colleagues no one knew what to expect, but the bar was set low. Much to my surprise I came away with a sense of excitement unlike many of the more traditional industry conferences.  It was like a cross between a TED Conference and SPAR, yet with some unexpected topics I don’t normally associate with reality capture.  There were presentations on nano technologies, digital DNA, computational design as well as the latest in what has become more common place; laser scanning, BIM, UAVs, etc.  If I had to pick one word to summarize it I would say “thought provoking” – I know, that’s two words.  Just insert a hyphen if that bothers you.
  • Standards
    Third quarter saw the release of the U.S. Institute of Building Documentation’s (USIBD) first series of standards documents. These included a RFQ & RFP template, a 3D Imaging Specification and a Level of Accuracy (LOA) Specification. I thought the other significant standards release was the BIM Forum’s 2015 Level of Development (LOD) Specification. The introduction and advancement of standards is a clear sign of a young industry that is beginning to mature. The pace at which technical innovation occurs in the early stages of an industry’s growth is generally followed by chaos of companies and individuals who are struggling to develop best practice workflows.  The development of standards is a critical part of the advancement and acceptance of new technologies.

BALL DROP

  • Regulations
    The FAA UAV Registration regulation began in the final month of 2015. I call it a Ball Drop, mainly because I am not a regulations guy. However, I think most of us can agree that when we are talking about an industry that is ready to explode with new entrants (many with little or no real experience) who will be flying machines with sharp blades hovering over our heads, there needs to be some sort of rules to keep people safe. The other reason I call this a Ball Drop is because the FAA was clearly behind the market in being prepared, thus holding up advancement of the industry while they play catchup.

Of course, there are many other notable industry highlights, but this is a blog post and not a book, so I will stop at this point.  Feel free to comment with what you consider to be notable industry accomplishments and/or ball drops. While we did see both innovation and shortcomings in 2015, I would like to point out that dropping the ball doesn’t have to infer a blunder. After all, it is at this time of the year people all around the world look forward to watching the ball drop to welcome in a new year. 

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

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About Author

SPAR 3D Editor Sean Higgins produces SPAR 3D's weekly newsletters for 3D-scanning professionals, and spar3d.com. Sean has previously worked as a technical writer, a researcher, a freelance technology writer, and an editor for various arts publications. He has degrees from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where he studied the history of sound-recording technologies. Sean is a native of Maine and lives in Portland.

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