There’s more to 360 than meets the eye. Simply seeing in all directions is not enough.

If one word could summarize the InterGeo trade show in Berlin, it would have to be integration.

It isn’t necessarily clear that integration is happening when you look at the floorplan. UAVs are still largely in one hall and scanners in another, but the systems discussions don’t quite match those divisions.

First, consider 360-degree imaging and augmented/virtual reality. There were new camera/scanner solutions around the floor, and at least part of the discussions touched on more open architecture — the ability to work with and talk to a number of systems. With much of the gear, there is still better utility with the proprietary systems, but the manufacturers and designers are giving a nod to the fact many users have gear from different manufacturers or want the flexibility to consider bringing in some different color schemes. It isn’t an indictment of anyone for being loyal to a brand, but there is nothing wrong with adding some blue, orange, yellow or green to the mix.

Manufacturers have continued to form alliances and make acquisitions that they feel move their design and deployment strategies in a stronger direction. They’re doing some integrating of their own, and as they fine tune their organizations and strategies, products and services, the tools will reflect that collaboration and begin to talk together and take advantage of the separate strengths in what manufacturers hope will make the sum worth more than the total of the parts.

We heard the integration discussion from Topcon last year, and we picked up pieces from nearly everyone else. This year, it’s front and center, with more manufacturers and service providers talking about solutions approaches, and not just design leadership.

There are parallels in manufacturing and distribution. Some years back, those segments were talking about joining the islands of automation. The argument was that certain operations were getting tools which drove dramatic improvements in productivity and efficiency while lowering cost. The process just ahead of that or just after it was still performing in traditional modes to now outmoded standards. The result was that only a portion of the benefits of the improvements were being realized. Imagine using the latest scanning technology to collect a beautiful point cloud and then you have to upload the data on a dial-up modem. Sure, you were fast in the field, but you more than lose that benefit in post processing.

We may not be seeing a revolution yet, but we’re building momentum toward one. In this case a slow — let’s say reasonably slow — revolution may ensure a more lasting result. 

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