Laser scanning pros and individuals interested in learning more about scanning technology are gathered in Houston this week for SPAR 2010. While the weather along the East Coast over the weekend caused some trip delays and cancellations for attendees and speakers, the event is still a hot spot for identifying trends and making connections. ARC's John Russo shares his impressions of the conference.

Laser scanning pros and individuals interested in learning more about scanning technology are gathered in Houston this week for SPAR 2010. While the weather along the East Coast over the weekend caused some trip delays and cancellations for a few of the attendees and speakers, the event is still a hot spot for identifying trends and making connections. “There is so much happening so quickly--it's great to be in the midst of the ‘who's who’ of laser scanning/3D imaging and those leading and driving the change,” said John Russo, AIA, president and CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based Architectural Resource Consultants.

Russo, an architect that specializes in as-built building surveys, said he found anindoor mobile mapping solutionthat was being introduced by Applanix/Trimble to be of interest, along with anew partnership announced by Leica Geosystems and INOVxto jointly develop software for converting laser scan data into intelligent plant models. “I also saw a lot of interest in Zebra Imaging's holographic visualization products,” Russo said. “You send them your point cloud data, BIM model or other 3D data and they create a 3D holographic image.”

Mobile scanning continues to be a hot topic, as well, with the mobile scanning vehicles on display outside the conference center drawing a substantial amount of attention. “There is definitely a heightened interest, but I also still heard a lot of skepticism in the discussions,” Russo said.

I was among those whose travel plans were affected by the East Coast storms, but I’ll be talking to Russo and several other attendees throughout the week to hear what they think about the conference. I’m also closely following the exhibitors to stay on top of all thenew product releasesandnews announcements. Check back here for more updates.


On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Russo sat in on the Scan to BIM track and stopped by a few more exhibit booths. He shared this report:

“The first session included Eric Hoffman of Quantapoint, Inc., Dale Stenning of Hoffman Construction, Josh Oakley of The Beck Group and Tina Murphy of HNTB. Excellent presentations by all. Some of the discussion revolved around the challenges of getting a BIM from scan data and the complexities of the work flow. Tools like Revit don't like to represent data non-orthogonally (as it actually exists). Because of this, Eric Hoffman cautioned laser scanning service providers to define ‘Fidelity’ criteria as a measure of acceptance of their deliverables in lieu of blind metric accuracies--a ‘best fit approach.’ ‘Be realistic in cost and time estimates,’ he said. ‘BIM will cost more than traditional deliverables, but it also delivers more value.’

"The second session began with an update on the GSA BIM/Laser Scanning IDIQ contracts by Richard Gee of GSA (BIM Champion in Region 5). GSA is the nation's largest landlord. Richard indicated that GSA had selected 16 firms to receive a contract out of 142 applicants. He indicated that last year GSA had implemented 64 BIM projects and 25 buildings were laser scanned. This represented approximately 18 million square feet of modeled space.

"Presentations were also given by Ghafari Associates and HKS discussing workflows of Scan-to-BIM used on a couple of GSA projects. Pat Carmichael of HKS also showcased HKS's ARCHengine technology used on the Dallas Cowboys Stadium project. The ARCHengine technology is built upon a gaming engine and allowed the owner to view the inside of the stadium as if seated in any seat inside the stadium.

"The afternoon Scan to BIM sessions began with Deke Smith of the buildingSMART alliance giving an update and overview of the alliance and the many initiatives it is involved in, such as National CAD Standards, National BIM Standards, COBIE, etc. He recommended that interested persons subscribe to the Journal of Building Information Modeling (JBIM)

"At this point, I decided to take a break from the sessions and go back out to the exhibition area. I visited the Clear Edge 3D booth, which offers software to automate the extraction of 3D CAD models from point cloud data. The process only works with planar surfaces such as walls, ground planes, etc, but not on curves or rounds. While not perfect, it did seem to be of value to a number of the presenters who indicated their use of the product in their presentations. Velodyne was showcasing LiDAR technology that tracks moving objects. A 360-degree scan of the exhibition floor was displayed on a monitor that showed a point cloud of not only the static objects in real time, but also of the people moving around the floor. I could actually see myself waving in the point cloud as I waved my hand in the air.

"The technology is advancing so fast, yet it is never fast enough. Hardware development seems to be further ahead than the software development. The consensus seems to be that more needs to happen to automate the post processing of scan data.”


If you’re at the conference, I’d love to hear from you. Please post your comments below, or e-mail me