For some, there is an epic battle between LiDAR and photogrammetry.  I believe this is like choosing a screwdriver or a hammer — different tools for different jobs, but equally valuable for a project’s success. If you take into account that photogrammetry can be 1/100th of the cost, you may not need the accuracy you thought you did.

As time progresses, I believe extreme customization is our future.  Regardless of technology, hardware and software are going to be customized and optimized for specific use cases.  Smartphones clearly model this. Hardware will begin to stabilize and standardize while software becomes king as the endless number of uses will require customized software. For example, you want to redecorate your house. These technologies and smartphones will allow you to capture your current rooms in 3D. Once you find furniture you’re interested in, that piece could quickly be captured with your smartphone and visualized in your virtual home. Add the ability to customize colors and lighting, and you’re now an amateur interior designer. Applications like this and an endless list of others will populate our world. 

I believe these technologies are being utilized in less than 5 percent of their capacity; I see a time when the ruler and measuring tape become extinct and 3D point clouds are the currency of the positioning world. The key question could be simplified to “lasers or pixels?” Since both technologies generate 3D point 
clouds, we will look to key factors such as:
  • Technology limitations (project lighting, material, etc.)
  • Accuracy requirements (required, not desired)
  • Cost
  • Software to support deliverables (In theory, this shouldn’t be a limitation since both technologies generate 3D point clouds, but the world of software can be finicky.)

At the end of the day, it really comes down to whether or not you have the tool that completes the project based on your requirements.