Making Laser Scan Data Available Online - Part 1

Laser scanning pointcloud data - at your fingertips.

20 January 2016


One of the more recent developments in the laser scanning space has been a focus on making the rich 3D pointcloud data available online. The primary purpose was to give laser scan data end users such as piping engineers and designers another tool to aid in their traditional workflows. The aim is to also make the rich 3D data captured at the site available online for anyone working on a project – allowing them to view the data and collaborate with others working on the project. Leica Geosystems was the first to introduce this feature with their TruView application. The other major hardware and software vendors in the scanning industry such as LFM and Faro have since followed suit with their respective NetView & WebShare applications. All of these viewers can also operate offline on a PC using a web browser.

The laser scanner pointcloud data is converted into an html based format that can be easily loaded onto a company's server. This is accompanied by a free plug-in for Internet Explorer that allows anyone with access to the server to view the data online from anywhere in the world.

Online viewer showing scan positions as yellow triangles and extents of the survey within Internet Explorer

The beauty of this is it allows project collaborators to view and interact with the data without requiring expensive software therefore opening up a host of potential uses for the data. These uses can often go beyond the original as-building or surveying requirements. For instance, some of the large car manufacturers in the US now scan their production sites and make the data available online for delivery personnel.  This allows, for example, the personnel to view the site and measure openings to insure they can move oversized deliveries into buildings. Other examples include using the online data to show contractors their work area or maintain asset management by keeping a digital record of a company's assets.

Measurement and Mark-up Tools

These applications offer a 3D like effect allowing the user to see a detailed scan scene and view the data from the scanner's point of view. The user can rotate about the scan position and jump to other neighbouring scan positions in a manner similar to using Google Street View. However, unlike a street view users can take measurements from the data such as distances and 3D point information.

TruView showing distance and 3D point measurement

In addition to this it is possible to mark up and annotate areas of interest. These can be stored in the application online as xml files and viewed by other users. Piping engineers on opposite sides of the world can enter a virtual model of the site on their PCs and make notes and share ideas.

Mark-ups and annotations within TruView

Stuart has been working in precise surveying, laser scanning and metrology for over 10 years in Australia, SE Asia and Africa. He has started-up the Australian operations for Intertek increasing our global reach to this region. Intertek Surveying Services (formerly Hi-Cad) are a global leader in dimensional control and laser scanning.