Archive for category Laser Scanning

AEC Alliances, Purchases, Cats Living With Dogs

staypuftLike a ship that has long passed ripples from Apple’s long held strategy to combine software and hardware has finally come to shore in the AEC marketplace when Autodesk recently announced a ‘collaboration’ with Leica.  This shatters their long held belief that they would “never partner with software.”  Straight up from the copy on their splash page.

“Smart integration empowers our customers to construct more efficiently and more accurately by making design and reality fit together.”

I have to say this has been a long time coming because if anything Autodesk is excellent at marketing and mostly sort of listening to their customers and marketplace something Leica is beyond woeful at.  They are a classic engineering company who makes great products and convinced of their products greatness believe it will have a market.  I wonder if they have ever in their existence put together a customer focus group.  While Autodesk continues to partner and acquire multiple companies in the 3D and Built Environment space Faro, Leica’s main competitor, acquired Kubit in March.  Trimble now owns Tekla, Sketh Up and Gehry Technolgies . 

What does the Leica / Autodesk union mean?  I would think at least when you need to export point for layout, instead of just picking a generic export you would then export to Leica’s family of products as an option.  Perhaps Cloudworx and Recap combination, as I would believe if you are firing up a Leica scanner, their would have to be some link directly to the Autodesk family.  Is this friendly oligopoly good for the industry.  Well when Windows dominated the marketplace people argues their monopoly was good as it provided a defacto standards, just like Rockefeller argued Standard Oil’s position of owning everything allowed for efficient pricing.


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3 Myths About Laser Scanning and Point Clouds for Architecture and the Built Environment

Warped curtain

Are laser scanners and their resulting pointclouds right for you and your project?  As with all lists, it is simplified and of my opinion.  Whether you want to trust my opinion, well that’s up to you, but my company Interioreview has, for over a decade, surveyed / drafted / modeled hundreds of buildings and starting in 2006 delivered Revit Models of existing buildings.  My company, PointKnown, has created an Add-In to Revit that allows you capture and model  buildings as you measure, in real time with a hand held laser.   Now that I’ve blown my own horn here are my top 3 Myths:

It’s Foolproof and Error Free.

Wrong.  I have not once received a model from a ‘pointcloud’ surveyor without dimensional errors in the model.  Not once.  Only because of our internal controls and surveying was I able to call out the errors and was not satisfied with other companies internal controls that the errors would have been found if my company had not found them.  Such that we now will do all the modeling in house.  Just because someone has a scanner does not mean they do it well.

From the “Analysis of The Accuracy of Terrestrial Laser Scanning Measurements” FIG (International Federation of Surveyors) Paper

it is concluded that features such as reflectivity, color, and brightness of the  object surfaces have impact on the quality of the data, therefore, although 3D point cloud data is very useful it should be considered that the data can be sometimes irregular and corrupted and thus not exactly reflecting the features of the scanned object.

It’s Easy to Produce a Model From a Pointcloud.

Holy cow, no.  How many technologies come into play to get a scan created, consolidated, registered, exported, modeled? First the hardware/scanner, whether it’s from Leica, Faro, whoever, they have their own software to manage the scan/cloud, and then you can export/import to Revit to use as a background to model over.  You can use other technologies to help with this process such as Scan to BIM, or to cut portions of the pointcloud you can use ReCap, export to Autocad and re-import that data into Revit, etc.  My point being there are a variety of methods to get from here to there but they are not necessarily consistent and have their strength and weaknesses, but you are using human power to make those decisions at each step.  And then you are essentially using the pointcloud to ‘trace’ over.  That is, you cut sections of the pointcloud in what ever view you are working in and trace over them.  Has the person ‘modeling’ the building ever surveyed a building?  Or have construction or architecture experience to know how a building should be put together.  Does the architect really want to see a wall with a .08 degree deflection of wall off 90 degrees because it will create numerous amount of Revit errors, and was it really there or was the pointcloud interpreted incorrectly?  There is no easy button.

It’s Cost Effective

Putting a scanning crew on site for a day is going to cost you between $3K-$4K typically, just to get the exterior of a building, with the pointcloud only, expect at least a 2 day buy in for between $6K and $8K, and that’s typically without going inside, and at the end you get the point cloud, not a Revit model. So a typical house, modeled from a point cloud, inside and out, best guess $8K-$10K.  12 Story Commercial Office Building, $50K+ and so on.  Maybe that’s in your budget, but if so why?  Why would you need to spend thousands of dollars to be told a room is square and has a 10′ ceiling?

Once dealing with the pointcloud, if you are dealing with it yourself, I hope you have a box/computer that is going to have a minimum of 16GB RAM, multicore XEON processor, etc. and ideally has a solid state drive, this is recommended by Autodesk for ‘pointcloud’  interactions.

You as a consumer of this data need to know what technologies are out there, your choices and their cost.  I have seen circumstances and white papers where laser scanning pays dividends many times over, most consistently in existing exposed MEP intensive facilities, think utilities, drilling platforms, power-plants and the like where having a accurate representation of all that data can allow people to retrofit power-plants with few change orders or zero defects.  Imagine an offshore construction platform that can lease for $100’s of thousands a day finishing early because of the accuracy of data, very good investment indeed even if it costs $200K to model it accurately.   However, do you need that kind of data for a commercial building or an adaptive reuse project?  How are you going to capture the interiors?  There are methods to capture the built environment accurately for your needs without wasting money and effort.


Start with the simplest model you need, dimensionally accurate, volumetrically correct using whatever technology that gets you there cost effectively and with a level of confidence.   Adding details to the model should be done dependent on scope and need.  Power-plant of a building, you may want to bring in a scanner to model the piping package, etc.  Accuracy of a historic structure that you may need to impact because of a project, sure scan it, but to scan an entire project is overkill in many circumstances no matter what you are told.  Scan where you need details added.  Know your options.  Your tool box needs more than a hammer.




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Photofly : Real 3D from Photos : Cloud Computing Magic : #bim #cloud

While I have not taken this for a test drive yet the videos and technology behind this are impressive and could provide a very valuable tool set.  First, a word about technology.  Too many times software presupposes too much knowledge or interest on the user, that is this software can do some amazing stuff you just have to sit down with it, go through the manual, try and use it, sit in a classroom, hit the user groups, etc. to master it and make it a useful and successfully incorporate into your workflow.  If you are like me you might be open minded to that but the benefits of learning a brand new software package have to be pretty amazing to entertain that process.  Enter Photofly.  From what I have pulled up and I included two videos here you upload standard digital photographs, which could range from your iphone to your 18 Megapixel Digital SLR, and Photofly does its magic in the cloud utilizing its own servers to render a photographic 3D image, that can be scaled using a known dimension to a dimensionally correct model that can also be exported to AutoCAD as a pointcloud.  What?!$%  From my perspective this is invaluable, and brings to the forefront technology that was only available from laser scanners.  I am not saying this takes their place but any time you can put another arrow in your quiver for building surveying and documentation, the better.  And if this is as intuitive as these 2 videos make it out to be, this is a home run.

Photofly Intro Video

Wrigley Field Gets Modeled From Tourist Photos


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Public Beta Open in January : Capture as builts in Revit in the field: #Revit #BIM #asbuilt #laser #pplt

We will be opening up our beta to public testing in January and we are asking for volunteers.   Our product PKNail allows a user to use a hand held laser, Disto D8, and measure and build Revit models in the field.  The measurements are transmitted via bluetooth to a mobile workstation which allows the user to quickly and accurately captures a building geometry and features.  On board intelligence allows users to determine wall thicknesses, wall angles, toggle accuracy, attach notes to objects and more.

PKNail was developed by field surveyors and software engineers to help the AEC Community quickly and accurately capture a building’s geometry in Revit.  This tool used alone of in conjunction with HDLS (High Definition Laser Scanning) can let you start any project in BIM / Revit.  Proven ROI in as little as one project, and speed gains from measuring to model of over 200%.

With the majority of construction projects happening in the built environment, and in cities like Boston almost 80% done in the built environment start them in BIM and help everyone downstream.

This a powerful tool in capturing as builts in Revit and beta testers will be eligible for a substantial discount when purchasing.


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BIM As Built : Laser Technology

Speaking to a colleague from Europe who moved to the US because he stated, ‘there’s a survey shop on every corner in the UK, I could only find a handful here.’    However, that’s changing.  HDLS, high definition laser scanning is starting to take off, especially now that the GSA issued the laser scanning awards.  Additionally, more and more people are reworking existing assets / adaptive reuse projects so it is becoming more and more important to get the existing conditions data.  While everyone is waiting for the day we can walk around with a magic wand and wave it around the room we have to build a bridge from here to there.  HDLS in creating a 3D database is an excellent start.  I believe HDLS, from firms like Leica and FARO,  performs fantastically in certain circumstances such as inaccessible or difficult geometry, exposed MEP intensive projects, however, for typical conditions especially the interior of buildings it might be akin to using a sledgehammer rather when you need a fly swatter.   We, PointKnown, have been developing a product that bolts on to Revit and takes laser range finder data and builds objects as you measure.  This has been defined as PPLT (Point to Point Laser Technology).  It allows a surveyor to move quickly and accurately from room to room or object to object.  We do not intend for it to usurp laser scanning but rather augment current surveying teams, allowing them the most flexibility depending on the situation.

Most importantly is to define the deliverable and type of model needed for the project.  This can start at the basic architectural model using generic library items to, well , anything goes but most of our clients want dimensionally correct space and then they apply the material and details they need as that is what they want to control.

We are now accepting people and firms into our public beta that starts January 2010, if you have any interest please feel free to contact us at and put beta in the subject line.


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Compiled List of GSA BIM and Laser Scanning Award Winners and Partners: #BIM #GSA

Here is a compiled list of the winners and partners/sub-consultants of the GSA BIM and Laser Scanning IDIQ  found by digging through press releases and the web.    It is by no means exhaustive as not everyone releases the names of their partners and/or sub-consultants but will augment the list if/when I find anything more.  I wanted to get a bigger picture of those participating and those who will be helping mold the Federal BIM and Laser Scanning Programs. Feel free to post if you got more info.

BIM IDIQ Winners

  1. Beck Technology, Dallas, TX 75201

    1. Raymond Goodson
    2. CADForce
    3. Langan Engineering
    4. Onuma
    5. Digital Alchemy
    6. Solibri
    7. Purdy McGuire
    8. Simpson Gumpertz and Heger
    9. Apex Cost Consultants
    10. Bohannon Huston
  2. Applied Software Technology, Atlanta, GA 30329

    1. DC Strategies
    2. Draper and Associates
    3. EDI Ltd
    4. Georgia Tech Building Lab
    5. Integrated Environmental Solutions, IES
    6. Lord, Aeck, and Sargent
    7. Neenan
    8. Optira
    9. Pruit Eberly Stone
    10. QientiQ North America
    11. Retrieve Technologies
    12. Smith Seckman Reid
    13. US Cost
  3. DPR Construction, Inc., Falls Church, VA 22042

  4. Ghafari Associates, LLC, Dearborn, MI 48126

  5. Hallam Associates, Inc., South Burlington, VT 05403

  6. KlingStubbins, Inc., Philadelphia, PA 19103

    1. Tocci
    2. Autodesk
    3. Bentley
    4. EMCOR Group
    5. Faithful & Gould
    6. JC Cannistraro
    7. Metco Services
    8. Raymond L. Goodson
    9. Simpson Gumpertz and Heger
    10. WSP Group
  7. HNTB Corporation, Kansas City, MO 64105

    1. Dimensional Innovations
    2. InterioReview
    3. Hinman
    4. M.E. Group Inc.
    5. MidWestern Consulting
    6. RCMS Group
    7. Regal Decisions Systems, Inc.
    8. Sanborn
    9. US Cost
  8. ONUMA, Inc., Passadena, CA 91106

  9. View by View, Inc., San Francisco, CA 94109

  10. Kristine Fallon Associates, Inc., Chicago, IL 60603

    1. Primera Engineers
    2. Coast to Coast
    3. Faithful & Gould
    4. Solibri

Laser Scanning IDIQ Winners

  1. Stantec Consulting Services, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

  2. Quantapoint, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA 15236

    1. Martinez and Johnson Architects
    2. EMO Energy Solutions
    3. Rolf Jensen and Associates
    4. Protection Engineering Group
    5. AMT Engineering
    6. Hinman
    7. Arnold Animations
    8. Certainty 3D
  3. Pharos Consulting, LLC, Orlando, FL 32835

  4. Coign Asset Metrics & Technologies, LLC, New Brighton, PA 15066

  5. Beck Technology, LTD, Dallas, TX 75201

    1. Langan Engineering
    2. Bohannon Huston
    3. CADForce
  6. Architectural Resource Consultants, Irvine, CA 92614


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Interioreview, as part of the team with HNTB Federal, awarded GSA BIM : #BIM #GSA

Found out last week that HNTB and the team they put together, which included Interioreview, was awarded the national BIM solicitation.  As far as I know I have not seen such a group of professionals brought under one umbrella to create BIMs of the existing environment.  I think it will be a great experience and petri dish for integrating technologies and capturing the built environment.  From what I understand they want to put these groups into play because funds are available.  From  conversations I’ve had with people within the GSA is that with the AARA funds there is a lot of money to put in play, and they are trying to do it in a short period of time.  I believe this will be an interesting ride from building the BIMs with an integrated team approach as well as working with the GSA.

From what I understand the full award list is not to be posted until October, so it will leak out with press releases, and blog posts like this one.


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Misconception of Laser Scanning & BIM Creation : #BIM

Quick post from Lidar News about how there is a misconception happening across the real estate community that laser scanning creates a BIM model.  Awesome spatial database, yes.  BIM model, no.  Still a lot of work to do that.

Point to Point to Laser Technology (PPLT) can help create BIMs in the field.


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