If the audible gasps from attendees at our Vectorworks Design Summit are any indication, the potential for injecting point cloud data into the design process is awe-inspiring. In fact, when our CTO Dr. Biplab Sarkar delivered his keynote address and revealed how we plan to support the technology in our 2016 release this fall, the enthusiasm was infectious.
No longer a science fiction pipedream, point cloud technology provides a real way for designers to model efficiently and affordably with more accuracy than ever before, making modeling, inferring, and referencing data easier. To show off the new capability, we partnered with technology solutions company Trimble to produce a highly detailed 3D scan of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the location for one of our evening events at the Summit, and transport that data directly into Vectorworks software.
"Scanning technology is being adopted today to increase accuracy, efficiency, and to provide new services to the AEC industry," said David Burczyk, segment manager-field solutions for the Trimble MEP Division of Trimble Navigation. "As design and construction teams adopt the technology as part of their standard BIM workflow, scanning will become more accessible and continue to evolve."
Burczyk began the data collection process by setting up a Trimble TX8 laser scanner on a tripod in 29 locations around the museum's atrium space. Each scan took three minutes, after which Burczyk captured high-resolution color images to create a complete dataset. Next, he registered the individual scans and combined them into one composite point cloud – consisting of three billion data points and representing 15,900 square feet of gallery space – using Trimble RealWorks. This target-less process automatically finds common planes in each individual scan to organize the data. Once registered, the point cloud can be used for 3D modeling and analysis.
Working with Trimble on the museum project is just one way we're exploring the possibilities of how Vectorworks users might implement such technology in the future. For example, once you import a point cloud into a Vectorworks file, you may manipulate everything from point density to coloration to scale. You’ll even be able to utilize the Clip Cube tool within the point cloud, isolating sections you want to reference within the data. This capability is what really got Summit attendees excited!
"The Philadelphia Museum of Art project provided a great opportunity for us to study the integration of real-world data into Vectorworks software, and our import of the highly accurate, laser-scanned museum point cloud was so real that it felt like we were standing in the middle of the museum with tape measure in hand," said Steve Johnson, senior manager of user interaction and research at Nemetschek Vectorworks. "Every point in the dataset had color, and we could walk or fly anywhere in the virtual model and measure with great accuracy. It was stunning.”
Stay tuned for more information about our point cloud support capabilities as we get closer to the release of Vectorworks 2016. In the meantime, watch a preview video and learn more about the Nemetschek Group's recent partnership with Trimble here.