INTERGEO 2005 Roundup

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Eight jam-packed weeks ago I attended INTERGEO 2005 in Düsseldorf. INTERGEO is a mammoth surveying/geomatics trade show with approximately 16,000 attendees. More than 500 exhibitors from all over the world showed their latest hardware and software. I picked the 3D laser scanning raisins out of the bun – here’s what I found.

I registered for the show hoping to find someone showing laser scan data with a Google Earth interface – it seems so obvious what a great way this is to navigate. I wasn’t disappointed. Ralph Schildwächter of Schildwächter Ingenieure displayed some building models of a town based on Riegl scan data. You can find a demo on their web site – the Google translator is helpful if your German is rusty or deficient. I expect we’re going to see a lot more Google Earth front-ends for navigating scan data next year.

Callidus Precision Systems GmbH showed the first prototype of its CPW 8000 combined time-of-flight and phase-based 3D scanner. Dr. Erik Niebuhr, managing director, was not revealing very many technical details about exactly how the company has combined both measurement systems, but prospective buyers can get more information from marketing director Karla Jödicke. The product name refers to the range of the scanner – 80 meters. Delivery of the first production units is expected by April 1, 2006 (in time for SPAR 2006, perhaps); pricing is expected to be €75,000, including standard software. The company is seeking distribution partners in select geographies.

FARO Technologies, Inc. demonstrated integration of a 50-megapixel camera with its LS 880 scanner. According to Bernd Becker, director of marketing and product management, the goal of the camera configuration is to nearly eliminate parallax between the scan data and the RGB data. The high pixel count has value in applications as diverse as forensic investigations of blood spatter, corrosion and leak monitoring in petrochemical facilities, and walkthroughs for real estate sales. FARO also previewed version 3 of FARO Scene, with enhanced meshing, noise and point cloud compression, object fit feature, edge detection and the ability to export to IGES, FARO Cloud for MicroStation and a new viewer (free) FARO Scout LT FARO Scout for viewing scan and RGB data. Formerly with the US Department of the Treasury, Ken Giovanni, FARO’s new global product line manager for the forensic market, was also on hand field questions about the company’s push into crime scene mapping.

I-SiTE introduced its 4400 Laser Imaging System to the European market together with its Studio 2.4 software. The company also launched I-SiTE Forensics 1.0 for crime and accident scene investigation using point cloud data. Scenes can be annotated with lines, labels and scaled human models. The product is currently shipping; list price is $24,000.

Kubit co-founder Matthias Koksch demonstrated PointCloud 3, the company’s application for manipulating point cloud data inside AutoCAD. Koksch claims users can bring 30 million points into AutoCAD with PointCloud software on a PC equipped with 2 GB of memory. For €1000 this is a big step up, since bringing 100,000 points as objects into native AutoCAD will bring it to its knees. PointCloud 3 features a new extension for clash detection allowing users to calculate clashes between point cloud data and AutoCAD geometry. PointCloud 3 is shipping this month. Kubit is headquartered in Dresden, Germany, and is actively seeking distribution in other geographies.

Leica Geosystems HDS previewed Cyclone 5.4 with stylus input running on the Panasonic Toughbook CF-18. What a fun demo – Leica HDS’s Joel Hurt was getting a kick out of the sympathetic stares he got when deliberately dropping the Toughbook on the booth floor. Also previewed was a wireless controller for the HDS3000, integration of external digital photographs and enhanced performance in single-user mode.

Optech announced it has established a European service center for its ILRIS-3D scanners in Milan with distribution partner Codevintec Italiana srl. The company also reports enhanced performance upgrades to the scanner first shown at INTERGEO 2004 and SPAR 2005.

Riegl demonstrated enhancements to its LMS-Z420i scanner including integrated inclination sensors and an internal synchronization timer which can be driven by an external GPS to allow time stamping of scan data. The maximum range of the Z420i has been extended to 1000m. The company also previewed an AutoCAD version of Phidias software developed jointly with PHOCAD. Delivery is expected in Q1 next year. Riegl also showed enhancements to its LMS-Q560 full waveform airborne scanner including enhanced signal processing techniques, new post processing software modules and upgrades to the data capture recorders.

Trimble took the wraps off its Trimble GX 3D scanner. Judging from the comments I heard at INTERGEO and afterward, customers and prospects like the new features including dual axis level compensation and an integrated laser plummet. Both features allow easy setup of the Trimble GX over a known point, which allows surveyors familiar with total station-based work processes to start scanning almost immediately and collect geo-referenced, registered scan data very quickly. Trimble’s 3D scanning portfolio manager, Omar Soubra, showed me how the level compensation feature is a breeze to operate – make the coarse adjustments with the bubble level on the tribrach to get in the green zone, then press Go to get automatic level compensation. Of course the Trimble GX does not have to be level to operate – a consideration for use in many environments outside traditional survey work.

Z+F‘s Imager 5003 sported an 8 megapixel Canon EOS digital camera on top. Christoph Fröhlich, managing director, explains that the new capability to map camera RGB data to scan data will find applications in such areas as forensic investigation of blood spatter and accident reconstruction. Current Imager 5003 owners can get a factory upgrade to their current scanners with a camera, mounting bracket and calibration for approximately €7200. The company also showed its new ProjectView software (list price €3800) for managing and archiving scan data bases with a web browser interface – this application points to asset management functionality for the future. Scheduled for delivery by the end of the year is the company’s ForensicViewer, which has modules for crash scene investigation, blood spatter analysis as well as a module for measuring the height of humans in surveillance images.

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