Chief Marketing Officer
Reality Modelling with phones and tablets
Until recently, we’ve needed three things to capture and consume the 3D reality of built environments: strong muscles, a fat wallet and the patience of Job. Laser scanning a construction site typically means a $50k+ investment in hardware and software. The hardware, tripod, battery packs and laptop all needs to be carted to and from the job site up and down stairs or ladders — not fun. And it can take days, even weeks to get a deliverable. However, a new generation of phones and tablets equipped with low-cost 3D sensors and computer vision software is coming to the table and changing the rules.
These new phones — the Lenovo Phab2 Pro Tango is the first to market– fit in your pocket and are fully capable of real time position tracking and 3D reconstruction. Not only do they cost 2 orders of magnitude less than today’s 3D laser scanners, they can be operated by anyone. Best of all, the output of these devices, which can be viewed in the field seconds after collection, connects directly to existing BIM, VR and QA/QC workflows.
Why is this so compelling? When fresh 3D data can be served up anywhere at low cost, new workflows become possible. Senior eyes for a project can supervise multiple crews without physically visiting the site if they can get detailed 3D context in a timely way. There’s no reason that everyone on a job site can’t have a 3D phone to trap errors and omissions as they occur. The design model can be updated to mirror the as-constructed state. Practically this means better responses to scope changes resulting from owner decisions, construction errors or design errors.
Have your 3D laser scanners become boat anchors overnight, ready for the scrap heap? Of course not. You’re not going to capture a 20,000 m2 parking structure on your phone, at least today, but for smaller areas – such as mechanical spaces, control rooms, and fabricated items – this new approach makes sense. Data from these handheld devices can be combined with laser scanning devices right in the field to get the best of both worlds.
Tom is Chief Marketing Officer at DotProduct. Funded by Intel Capital and others, DotProduct provides handheld 3D reality capture solutions for engineering, construction and manufacturing. He joined DotProduct from CyArk where he held a position as Executive Director. Tom is the founder of SPAR Point Group which hosts the world’s largest conference on 3D scanning and was acquired in 2009. Previously he served as a market analyst at Daratech, a CAD/CAM/CAE research firm and before that was a wireline engineer for Schlumberger in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Oman.
Tom is a very active volunteer and coach in various charitable institutions. He holds physics and business degrees from MIT, the University of British Columbia and Queens University.