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Sight Lines: Trimble Makes Inroads on Infrastructure, BIM

November 7, 2012
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At Trimble Dimensions in Las Vegas this week, Trimble’s latest products and news are generating a substantial amount of buzz. The R10 GNSS solution, whose lightweight, low-profile design and RTK/VRS correction capabilities appeal to both loyal Trimble fans and curious outsiders, is a hot demo item on the show floor. One surveyor noted that although his firm has traditionally purchased a different brand of equipment, products like the R10 make a convincing argument to consider alternatives. Another surveyor said his firm had recently invested in other Trimble receivers but is eyeing the R10 as a likely future purchase.

The Trimble TX5 laser scanner, a result of Trimble’s agreement with FARO earlier this year, is also drawing interest. A hands-on session gave attendees an opportunity to watch the TX5 collect and register the data. Although the Scene software is currently used as an intermediate step for data transfer and for colorizing the point cloud, Trimble expects to have the process fully integrated into the Trimble RealWorks software in the first half of 2013. Trimble is also working on ways to simplify the sharing of point cloud data with clients through a publisher tool that will allow point clouds to be viewed with embedded files, links and notations in smaller file sizes and on web pages.

A Trimble-branded smartphone could prove to be the next-generation utility locator. Based on the Juno T41, the rugged device has not yet been formally launched but is on display at Berntsen's booth. It offers the choice of either a Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 operating system or the Android 2.3.4 “Gingerbread.” Features include Bluetooth 2.1 with an enhanced data rate, a capacitive multitouch interface, an integrated GPS receiver with 2 to 4 meters accuracy, an MCX port for an optional external GPS antenna, and an 8-megapixel camera with geo-tagging. The all-in-one device is expected to hit the market in January.

Equally of interest to many attendees was the announcement at the conference that Trimble and Bentley Systems have formed a strategic alliance to “further the connection between the virtual and physical environments for infrastructure projects.” In other words, Trimble’s total stations, 3D laser scanners, and GNSS positioning solutions will be optimized for use with Bentley’s modeling software to allow infrastructure models to be geospatially referenced in real time through mobile devices. Bentley, which makes the InRoads suite as well as other road design and infrastructure software, said such “intelligent positioning” helps users save time and money. It is unclear how this arrangement will affect surveyors who work with state transportation departments and other clients that require deliverables in Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D.

The news of the Bentley alliance comes on the heels of an announcement last week that Trimble acquired assets of Vico Software Inc., a provider of 5D virtual construction software and consulting services. This move, too, was an effort to connect physical and virtual data. With 5D, users have access to time- and cost-related information for a richer 3D BIM.

Trimble clearly has an appetite for innovation. For users who rely on Trimble solutions to enhance efficiency and productivity, the expanded lineup is sure to create new opportunities for synergy and growth.

What recent developments by Trimble are you most interested in, and why? Where do you think Trimble will focus next? Share your thoughts below.
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