Adding Intelligence to Point Clouds

  1. Modeling is expensive and time consuming.
  2. The ideal solution would support point clouds, surface meshes and CAD models equally.
  3. It would be nice if we could start over, but maybe one of the innovators will break through.

To model, or not to model – that is the question. Given the current lack of support for point clouds in the major engineering and GIS software packages if you need to work in one of these design/decision support environments you are forced to model, but that is expensive and even worse in the highly competitive world in which we now find ourselves, time consuming. The ideal 3D software would support point clouds, surface meshes and CAD design models equally, and allow for near real time decision making. Easy to describe, unfortunately unless someone has a top secret project underway, it is not likely anytime soon.

With the industry trend being toward faster scanners and therefore more dense point clouds it seems fair to assume that from a visualization standpoint the 3D geometry is going to be there. Add in images to provide the texture, and voila, you have the real world captured in 3D at your fingertips. Now if we could add intelligence to the point cloud that is common and recognized by the design and/or process software, than intelligent decisions could be made without having to model the point clouds.

I wish we could start with a clean slate, knowing what we know now about scanners and CAD, because it appears that it is going to be a real challenge to retrofit. Unfortunatley there is just too much invested in the status quo to start over. There are a few companies out there driving innovation. Maybe we will be surprised.

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