Reality capture is a term for making three- dimensional (3D) digital models of objects that exist in the physical world by capturing their shape—an alternative to modeling their shape.
From an article in Engineering.com by Roopinder Tara.
3D capture starts with images (photographs and video from cameras) and digital input, such as point clouds from laser scanners (LiDAR).
Who Uses Reality Capture?
Reality capture has applications in several industries and workflows, such as reverse engineering, medical imaging, metrology, AEC (architecture, engineering [structural, civil and building] and construction).
The applicability and benefit of reality capture increase with the scale and complexity of the 3D model to be created. Compare the ease of modeling the town square using reality capture, as shown above, with the effort of creating a 3D model of it from scratch using CAD and BIM.
A 3D capture system, either with camera-equipped drones or ground-based laser scanners, merely “shoots” the scene, collecting every architectural detail in view with billions of pixels and points. It doesn’t matter if the building facades have intricate features or if they are plain; it takes the same amount of time and generates the same number of pixels and points. This is why reality capture providers will say the complexity is free. By contrast, the detail in a CAD and building information modeling (BIM) model requires considerable effort, a longer time frame and great skill.
While “shooting a scene” may be simple in concept, in practice, reality capture can involve expensive equipment and, if not CAD skills, skills in managing large data files and visually ambiguous point clouds and meshes.
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