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Bentley Makes Point Clouds Valuable Across Full Infrastructure Lifecycle Through Acquisition of Pointools Ltd

November 8, 2011
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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Bentley Systems Inc. announced that it has acquired U.K-based Pointools Ltd., in order to integrate point cloud processing in innovative ways throughout its product portfolio. Point cloud inclusion supports Bentley’s commitment to advance information mobility with integrity across design and operational workflows. Point cloud scanning devices are fast becoming commonplace, so images are now cost-effective to capture, but have served only for temporary and task-specific purposes because the scale of the data files overwhelms both storage and query accessibility. Now that Bentley is uniquely overcoming these challenges, point clouds, as a fundamental data type, can usefully serve the function of an “as-operated” 3D model for every infrastructure asset.

Through its acquisition of Pointools, Bentley is able to go beyond embedding the powerful Vortex engine in MicroStation, to assimilate point cloud processing and data management through the ProjectWise and AssetWise platforms, extending point cloud value through all Bentley solutions, applications, and workflows. At the same time, with the introduction of the V8i (SELECTseries 3) upgrade, the Bentley Descartes image management software now becomes the leading information modeling environment for advanced 3D image and point cloud editing and processing. By eliminating point cloud distribution and adoption obstacles through i-models and ProjectWise, Bentley’s project team collaboration and work-sharing platform, “hands-on” information mobility can now be delivered and secured from design to construction and operations – and back again for reuse in rehabilitation, upgrade, and retrofit workflows.

As Bhupinder Singh, senior vice president, Bentley Software, explained, “With Pointools, we have developed a breakthrough capability – unlocking the value of the gigabytes or even terabytes of point cloud data – to surmount the ‘big data’ problem of point cloud users. A unique new ProjectWise capability will stream on-demand to Bentley applications only the subset of point cloud data being viewed or queried. This functionality is what has been needed to allow point clouds to fulfill their potential as an intrinsic, fundamental data type in information modeling workflows.

“A software generation ago, through Bentley Descartes, we delivered comparable innovations to make large 2D raster image processing feasible for infrastructure engineering workflows. Combined with the ‘delta file transfer’ functionality already in ProjectWise, Bentley will now more comprehensively enable collaborative work sharing. A new ProjectWise point cloud management and streaming service will be introduced before the end of the year. With our acquisition of Pointools, its innovative technology, and added in-depth knowledge of point clouds, watch for additional pioneering capabilities.”

Commenting on the acquisition, Tom Greaves, managing director, SPAR Point Group, said, “Acquiring Pointools is a coup for Bentley; the timing is excellent. The match up of hardware-neutral Pointools with Bentley’s open, single platform strategy is going to liberate value beyond design to construction and asset management for Bentley users just as they are demanding and getting more and better data. Point clouds need a seat at the data table with information modeling, GIS data, equipment catalogs, project documents and maintenance databases – Bentley sets a place for point clouds with this acquisition.”

CEO Greg Bentley said, “On behalf of my colleagues at Bentley, I welcome our new team members from Pointools. We look forward to enabling our users to benefit from the growing potential value of point clouds captured by ever-advancing scanning technology. Going forward, point clouds need no longer be throwaways, and, importantly, owner-operators can be supported by ‘as-operated’ 3D models. This is a key contribution to information mobility with integrity for better-performing, safer, and resilient infrastructure.”

Added Faraz Ravi, Pointools co-founder, “My colleagues and I are very excited about joining the Bentley team at a time when infrastructure professionals are quickly recognizing the tremendous value of point cloud data and adopting it across a wide range of workflows. In my new role at Bentley I look forward to helping realize the vision of powering next-generation point cloud workflows throughout the Bentley portfolio of products.”

Pointools’ super-fast Vortex engine is ideally suited to the demanding requirements of architectural, engineering, and construction projects due to its unrivalled ability to handle the very largest point cloud datasets, comprising billions of points, and from virtually every scanning source. The Pointools POD file format retains key information pertaining to the origin of the point cloud data (provenance) including scanner type, original scan file name, scan date, scan location, and scan keywords. This information can be indexed and searched to more quickly locate models when managed, referenced, and maintained in Bentley’s ProjectWise collaboration and work-sharing platform.

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