As a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, Aaron Morris focused on mapping underground spaces with 3D LiDAR. Although the emphasis of his research was on mine safety, Morris quickly identified other applications that could benefit from rapid 3D measurement and modeling. But while the data capture technology was impressive, it was hampered by the limitations of the software.

Morris turned his attention to developing automated processing algorithms that would streamline 3D projects. In 2009 he founded Allpoint Systems, a company that offers software solutions such as Scan-time for collection and registration, Insight for cloud collaboration and Bridges for generating bridge clearance reports.

Mobile mapping is a revolution, Morris says, and it’s driving innovation in building information modeling (BIM). “I think we’ll begin to see a lot more direct interaction with the data itself,” he says. “Before, the data was used as an intermediate step to produce a 3D model, but now design firms and companies producing software in the design space are starting to adopt the 3D natively, so you can work directly in that.”

Cloud processing is an emerging trend because it increases the efficiency of groups who rely on the same dataset. And as more LiDAR datasets are collected, additional applications will be explored and discovered.

With all the progress that’s being made in automated data collection and processing, will there be any room left for human involvement? Watch my video interview with Morris to learn where he sees technology headed in the future and what these developments might mean for geospatial professionals.