R3A Blog

R3A Blog

New Scanning Technology Supports Early Design Efforts

Author: John Michaels

Capturing more accurate existing conditions data for buildings and sites for use in the design process has become easier for architects today, with access to new technology.  With the advent of the 3D scanner, Photogrammetry, and the support of embedded GPS info by Autodesk ReCap software's latest features specifically for UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) users, the technology continues to improve. What was once unheard of (like flying your "off-the-shelf" drone with a standard 1080p or DSLR camera and being able to feed those images into software that can create files containing photo Mesh/Point Clouds for you) is now a simple reality. Even though Photogrammetry doesn’t offer the same level of accuracy as laser scanning, generating a 3D model from photos is still a fast and cost effective tool and provides a great canvas to support preliminary design studies.

The future technology is very promising though in closing the accuracy gap, especiallyin light of research being done regarding 3D scanners. One example of this maturing technology comes out of Carnegie Mellon University's research in 3D scanning technology. CMU has historically taken large strides in research of this nature; such as the ARIA (Aerial Robotic Infrastructure Analyst) project, and this time is no different. This new research goes well beyond the use of embedded metadata contained in photos because it is concentrated on the interaction of light upon an object in the BRDF (bidirectional reflectance distribution function) process. Currently it is being applied to the 3D printing industry, but don't be surprised if it is soon being applied to the UAV reality capture scanning industry. If nothing else, it will help improve scanner algorithms and lead to even more innovation.

All things considered, designers must evaluate budgets, time, and dimensional tolerances with regards to context in order to effectively implement these emerging scanning and reality capture technologies.  Here at R3A, we have begun researching and selectively implementing these new technologies to assist us in the early stages of design and feasibility studies.

Read more about it here: 

  1. CMU's BRDF (bidirectional reflectance distribution function) process:  (http://3dprintingindustry.com/2015/06/04/the-future-of-3d-scanning-the-latest-research-from-carnegie-mellon-university/) 

  2. CMU's ARIA (Aerial Robotic Infrastructure Analyst) project:  (http://www.sparpointgroup.com/sean-higgins/vol13no20-robotic-infrastructure-modeling-with-aria)

  3. Autodesk ReCap: