How democratisation is set to shape scanning technology in 2018

Products such as the Leica BLK360 are ultimate game changers as they provide solutions to issues even before they occur.– Burkhard Boeckem, Hexagon Geosystems

Burkhard Boeckem, chief technology officer at Hexagon Geosystems, says high-tech scanning technology is now becoming available to everyone.

As 2017 comes to an end, many of us inevitably find ourselves reflecting upon the leaps in laser scanning technology over the past several months and questioning where the future will lead.

The most inspiring development so far, and something that will completely transform the building information modelling (BIM) and reality capture industry in 2018, is ‘democratisation’.

The ability to take technology that was once only reserved for specialists and a select field of applications and make it available to everyone is undoubtedly what will shape scanning technology tools moving forward.

Easy-to-use devices that simplify everyday tasks while simultaneously maximising results is, in essence, what the future looks like for the industry. By integrating technologies and simplifying solutions, companies are able to push the limits of technology and find new and exciting ways to bring reality capture to all, alongside its unlimited possibilities and applications.

Fuelled by the industry’s fast-paced evolution, at Hexagon Geosystems we took the concept of ‘democratisation’ and put it at the heart of the BLK360, the world’s smallest reality capture solution, designed and produced by Leica Geosystems.

This device ultimately opens up the scanning market to whole new audiences, lowering the barriers of entry to this in-demand technology. Architects and designers are only two of the groups of professionals that are benefiting from this democratisation revolution and that will be able to use 3D scanning technology and BIM solutions in their everyday work.

Embracing disruption

As scanning technology applications that are still unimaginable in the present progressively become a day-to-day reality, a new mindset is key to developing the devices that will support these professional needs in the future.

Products such as the Leica BLK360 are ultimate game changers as they provide solutions to issues even before they occur. For instance, for those who work in engineering and construction and rely on traditional tools such as pencils, paper and tape measures, this miniaturised and lightweight 3D scanner provides a way to avoid data redundancy as well as any missed measurements.

At the push of a single button it’s able to capture 360-degree HDR spherical imagery and take a 360,000 point per second laser scan that is completely ready to view, mark up and edit within three minutes.

But the future won’t only require instruments that can deliver immediate results, it will also demand that these be within reach for those who will benefit from them the most. With its simplicity, both in function and design, the BLK360 is an appealing and accessible piece of kit for professionals who are starting to explore BIM and scanning technology for the first time.

In this respect, we’re starting to see a demand for scanning technology and reality capture solutions in, for example, the broadcast and special effects industries, both constantly seeking to evolve their own professional practices and simplify workflows.

Achieving balance between inclusive and exclusive technology

Although democratisation will lead to technology being more inclusive in the shape of simplified smart devices, it’s equally important to consider the future and evolution of more complex and exclusive scanning technologies that are currently in use by certain industry professionals.

At Hexagon Geosystems, a clear example of this is the Leica SPL100 single photon LiDAR (SPL) airborne sensor, a system that can capture six million measurements per second and deliver detailed mapping results and elevation models of large areas of terrain.

The data that’s collected is used in applications that require high point density over large areas such as country- and state-wide mapping, disaster risk planning and emergency management.

Although not directly touched by democratisation, these industry professionals increasingly demand and expect high performing devices in order to successfully complete their tasks.

Democratisation is achieved when exclusive technologies, such as SPL, are developed into simpler devices, like the BLK360. Producing fit-for-purpose solutions, the needs of various professionals, from architects to movie set designers to public safety officials, are met for the specific challenges they face on unique sites every day 

In a sector that’s constantly being disrupted, “democratisation” provides both the ultimate purpose and goal to improve BIM tools. The BLK360 has lit the spark that has ignited this evolution within Hexagon Geosystems and will continue to challenge us to come up with more inclusive products as we move forward.

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