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ClearEdge3D’s software package “EdgeWise” uses computer vision technology to automatically create 3D, editable Computer-Aided Design (CAD) models from laser-scan data. The software has many exciting applications in such diverse markets as architecture, construction, engineering, defense, modeling and simulation, real estate, Hollywood special effects, Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth, video games, homeland security, and virtual mapping.
Kevin Williams and his wife Lesa Bynum Williams spent the last three years developing the technology, building ClearEdge3D from the ground up. Prior to starting the company, Kevin and Lesa both worked at SAIC. Kevin was a senior scientist who authored both the RTV LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) Toolkit and the SAIC LIDAR Toolkit, which have been used successfully to automatically model millions of 3D buildings from aerial laser-scanning data. Lesa, co-founder and Vice President of Engineering at ClearEdge3D, was formerly a scientist and software developer at SAIC. There she gained extensive experience with hyperspectral image analysis as well as Geographic Information System (GIS) applications.
EdgeWise automatically creates 3D computer models from ground-based scan data. Laser scanners allow people to quickly collect 3D information from a scene-such as a neighborhood, a construction site, or the inside of a building-but it has traditionally required a lot of time and manual work to create a solid 3D computer model out of the raw data output. In contrast, EdgeWise uses novel “computer vision” algorithms which mimic the same processes that the human brain uses to “see” features within the dataset. Using these algorithms, EdgeWise is able to automatically extract those features as solid 3D models. These models are highly detailed-accurate down to the level of centimeters, or even millimeters-portraying features such as doors, windows, ledges, gutters, etc. Moreover, the software allows the creation of these models in a matter of minutes to a few hours, instead of days or weeks using older manual methods.
A number of companies tested ClearEdge3D’s software during the beta phase. One of these was Direct Dimensions, Inc. (www.directdimensions.com), which does laser scanning of both objects and facilities, then makes 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) models for their clients. Based in Baltimore, Maryland, Direct Dimensions serves a wide variety of clients, including the military and government, major contractors and architectural firms, historic preservation organizations, universities, and fine art institutions.
Michael Raphael, President and Founder of Direct Dimensions, said, “It’s a constant battle to process the data you collect into more meaningful formats.” Searching on the Internet, Raphael discovered ClearEdge3D-and its advantages were immediately apparent to him. It could reduce the work flow time for many projects, such as large structures and facilities, which have millions and sometimes billions of laser-scanned raw 3D data points. The software can process the points and create a solid model in three dimensional space, so you can see the object.
Raphael noted that ClearEdge3D works extremely well with buildings, but he also intends to use it on other projects, such as the industrial applications of airplanes, cars and parts, and hopefully even for medical applications-including eyes, ears and noses-scanned into the computer for plastic surgery purposes.
Scott Cedarleaf, one of the other early beta testers, commented, “ClearEdge3D’s software immediately interested me. When I saw what ClearEdge3D was capable of doing in seconds, it was unbelievable. For our clients-no matter what the industry-it will cut down modeling time significantly.”
ClearEdge3D (www.ClearEdge3d.com) is the industry leader in automated feature extraction from terrestrial laser-scan data. The company founders boast many combined years of experience working with laser-scan and computer vision technologies. Their flagship product, EdgeWise is the first truly automated software solution for extracting 3D, editable CAD models from terrestrial laser-scan data.