Low cost scanning of architecture to CAD?
I just noticed the press release, "HOK, Leica Geosystems and Bricsys Announce "Scan-to-BIM" Initiative". I have been searching for a viable way to scan the warehouses where my company installs refrigeration chambers. It is not unusual to have to obtain measurements of a crowded warehouse. But, a system that is 10's of thousands is out of the question. So, I hope this initiative is seeking to get something viable for the small company. I will share some of my thoughts, in hopes that it gets some attention.
Ideally, such a scanner would be cheap, and easy enough to use, that we could even mail it to a distant customer, and talk him through setting it up to do a scan of his warehouse. Then, it would provide us a 3D scan of the facility. It would not have to be very detailed, in the 3D model. I don't need to measure the diameter of every piece of water pipe on the wall. But, if I can see an image that is detailed enough, as I do a virtual tour, I at least can see that there is a pipe there, and can ask for more information if needed.
There are several mature technologies to make measurements, so that such a device should be fairly cheap. The "Project Tango" proved to be too inaccurate for larger places, typical of business or industry. But it seemed to be designed for gaming, where they don't need as much accuracy.
In the U.S. you can get a laser distance meter for $40 that can provide +/- 1/16" accuracy at 100ft. I realize these are not doing continuous readings at a very fast rate, but a manufacturer could mount several sensors in a single unit, aimed at slightly different angles. Mount it on a tripod and let it slowly spin around the room to capture the walls and ceiling. And you don't need a zillion points of measurement to determine the dimensions of a wall. I realize that if a point is only every foot, it would not "see" things like windows, or water pipes on the walls. But, if an image were also taken, the user could see that they are there in a virtual tour. So, it could do a room scan in a minute or two. It may also have the intelligence to know when there is a sudden change in the direction of a wall, or a hole, that may be a corner or a doorway. So, it might automatically return to those areas to get a denser scan. The unit could be sold for less than $300, I am sure.
Other technologies are faster, such as the laser scanners that are now sitting on top of robotic floor vacuums., and Time-of-Flight cameras are also fairly affordable now, even if the pixel count is not very dense.
Concerning point clouds. There is on weakness in them that would affect scans of commercial buildings. Unless the point cloud density is smaller than the smallest item you want to "see", you would miss detecting things like trusses. Something like a laser with a fanned beam is a better approach for them. This technology is commonly used for scanning small things, like an 8" tall figurine. But, there is no reason it cannot be adapted to scan a ceiling to detect the trusses on a ceiling. Then, perhaps extract the elevation, and locations of the trusses, even if it does not try to model every detail of the truss.
For decades there have been university projects, where a college kid makes some very low cost way to scan a room. But, such things seem to never make it to the market. Hopefully, this initiative with BricsCAD involved, will produce something viable for the average user of BricsCAD.
For my fellow user, please speak up if you think I have hit onto something you are interested in seeing.