If you have ever spent any time researching laser scanning, you have probably come across the ubiquitous argument about which laser scanner is best. This one for short-range, that for long, this is the fastest, the cheapest, the best bang for your buck, and then, in amongst all of that, there are the diehards, the brand champions, it is their brand or nothing, and then those that embrace diversity, if it does the job, they are happy, however and despite the opinions of one and all, they are all just data taxis, nothing more, but there is a catch.The use of laser scanning and other mass data collection technologies has become common place across what now appears an endless list of markets. There is a burgeoning list of manufacturers that are wanting a piece of the enormous "reality capture" or "digital twin" pie in which, laser scanning and point cloud data play a massive role. Omnipresent with these manufacturers, comes the logical desire to retain end-users within their own ecosystem. Manufacturers often provide complete hardware, and software solutions and have developed their own proprietary formats for storing and processing point cloud data. Commonly, these software solutions and proprietary formats do not necessarily play well with others and can be difficult for users to break free of, once committed.
For those willing to venture into the world of a mixed asset fleet, proprietary data formats inhibit the ability to combine data from different hardware directly, requiring the use of common data exchange formats, such as E57, LAS or LAZ, to create combined data workflows, presenting a huge challenge for users and subsequent waste of time and energy, the consequence of this convoluted process is a largely redundant "evil" twin of the original data.
Open point cloud formats present the opportunity for data to be effortlessly exchanged between different software solutions, enabling efficient processing strategies and data flow for the benefit and commercial success of vendors and customers alike. In almost all instances, is it highly unlikely vendor software can provide all possible solutions demanded by the market and true advancement and progression rely on fair competition amongst different solutions.
Whatever method or hardware solution you use to capture point cloud data becomes somewhat irrelevant when we look at what really adds value to that point cloud data. The real value is realised in how the data is manipulated and the information that is either extracted or integrated AFTER capture and processing. Significantly, the benefit of this is multiplied if the exchange and data flow between all considered sources and software solutions was made to be as efficient and smooth as possible using open point cloud format access to combine them.
The digitization of the real world has begun, and reality capture devices (data taxis) and point cloud data are key drivers in this pursuit, however evolution and advancement, for the benefit of all, rely heavily on fair and reasonable competition amongst solution providers.
Open Point Cloud Formats are petitioning hardware manufacturers and software vendors to provide Software Development Kits (SDK) to have read and possible write ability of raw and preprocessed (filtered and combined) point cloud formats, in the best case free of charge and easy to license.
To be part of this petition, please sign up at openpointcloudformats.org