A patent for the compression of LiDAR point clouds (US 9753124) has been awarded to LizardTech. The geospatial data management software provider’s new patent offers lossless compression of point clouds captured by airborne LiDAR sensors or terrestrial laser scanners. It accommodates effective processing, storage and transmission of data sets.

“LiDAR systems capture terabytes of data containing rich information that can be difficult to exploit due to the difficulty processing such massive files,” says John Hayes, the LizardTech senior engineer who received the patent. “Our LiDAR compression technique allows users to maximize their return on investment in point cloud data collection.”

LizardTech developed the LiDAR compression technology in 2009 by leveraging the wavelet transformation algorithms used to compress satellite and aerial image data sets into MrSID formats. The point cloud compression technique was first released as a stand-alone LizardTech product called LiDAR Compressor and then integrated into GeoExpress in 2015.

GeoExpress is LizardTech’s flagship software product originally created to enable geospatial professionals to manipulate digital satellite/aerial image and losslessly compress them to industry-standard MrSID or JPEG2000 files. The addition of LiDAR handling gave GeoExpress the ability to natively compress LiDAR data to MrSID and LAZ formats with no loss of data content, saving up to 75 percent on storage, and time in processing files.

LiDAR systems are flown extensively on aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles to collect highly accurate measurements of terrain elevations for a variety of mapping applications. Another form of LiDAR known as terrestrial laser scanning captures point clouds at ground level, inside and outside of building structures, for visualization of crime scenes, recreation of accident sites and 3D modeling of building interiors.

“Lasers are even being mounted on earth-moving equipment at construction sites for real-time capture of grading progress so that engineering managers can make on-the-spot decisions,” says Toby Martin, vice president of development and strategy at Extensis. “LiDAR compression makes this possible and is revolutionizing workflows in the architecture engineering and construction (AEC) industry.”

The LiDAR compression algorithms can be licensed via the LizardTech SDK to incorporate the technology into third-party geospatial software solutions. Already, LizardTech is seeing interest in this technology from hardware sensor developers who want to place data compression capabilities at the source of collection.

About LizardTech

Since 1992, LizardTech has delivered state-of-the-art software products for managing and distributing massive, high-resolution geospatial data such as aerial and satellite imagery and LiDAR data. LizardTech pioneered the MrSID technology, a powerful wavelet-based image encoder, viewer and file format. LizardTech has offices in Seattle, Denver, London and Tokyo.