Geo Week News

June 7, 2013

Color coding 3D imaging industry at HxGN LIVE

After returning to the office from my week in Las Vegas at Hexagon’s “HxGN LIVE” conference, I found myself quite impressed with the size (and budget applied by Hexagon) as more than 3,500 were in attendance. It was a pleasure to see many of you there and to meet several folks in person for the first time. While I attended all but one of the Leica Geosystems’ User Conferences, this was my first HxGN event.

For the uninitiated, HxGN breaks everything up into one of four tracks: Metrology, GeoSystems, SG&I (Security, Gov’t & Infrastructure) and PP&M (Process, Power & Marine). While the exhibition floor was literally set up as a Venn diagram for everything Hexagon owns, everything else seemed to be set up to keep you in your track as opposed to cross-pollination.

There were signs in the dining area to suggest where attendees from each track should sit, and even the name badges were color-coded to indicate the group to which you belonged!

That concept was a bit contrary to my way of thinking about 3D imaging. I typically look at the industry as bringing disparate disciplines together through similar technologies as opposed to dividing similar technologies by discipline or application. That being said, I am sure that there are good reasons to try and make things seem neat, tidy and compartmentalized.

But, it was a bit funny to walk the floor and see incredibly similar hardware in different color cases to be marketed to different segments. I’d love to see the market research that determined that “market A should be primary colors while market B should be approached using jewel tones …”

Okay, rant over, here are my main takeaways from the conference:

  • It should not be 109° (42.8 C) in early June. However, the accommodations and expansiveness of the MGM suited HxGN well. I was there for four days and, other than going to and from the airport, I never left the building and never wanted anything I couldn’t find (especially good food!). The outside demos were not that well attended (I assume due to the aforementioned heat) but the breadth of offerings was truly impressive coming from “one” company. Besides, when you combine it with the snowy SPAR International conference in Colorado Springs last April, we’re definitely proving that the hardware is robust. 
  • UAV’s were the hottest ticket. Everyone mentioned these, and the fact that they were flying them indoors at the exhibit hall didn’t hurt anything either. I found the twin bladed, Leica RCD30 (Swiss Drones “Dragon 35”) particularly impressive due to its 77-pound (35kg) payload capacity and four-hour max flight time. If you haven’t been keeping up with the legislation regarding commercial and government use of drones lately you should. Their impact on data collection in the coming years stands to alter our sense of both productivity and privacy. 
  • Bridging the gaps may be better business than pushing the boundaries. There seemed to be more new combinations than new technologies. I received a lot of questions about the Nova MS50, a total station with limited scanning abilities. While Leica touts this as a new product line (the “Multistation”) it struck me as a gateway drug to pull surveyors into scanning. That doesn’t make it bad, but it seems more mashup than groundbreaking to me. There was also the launch of the Pegasus One, a mobile mapping platform created from multiple Hexagon products. I think we’ve all wondered why it took Leica so long to move into this space such that seeing it happen was less of a surprise than the fact that it was introduced using an HDS7000 as the imager. 
  • There are still a lot of people just entering the 3D imaging market. I definitely felt like one of the “old men” of the scanning scene when I starting asking about other attendees’ business and 3D imaging experiences. Of the new people that I met at the conference, the average career time in laser scanning or 3D imaging was about 2.5 years. Most were on their first piece of hardware. I think that is a great sign for both Hexagon and the industry as a whole. 


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