Geo Week News

February 19, 2014

Expectations and Perspective

Greetings from ILMF 2014! If you would have told me a year ago that I would need to fly to Denver in February to get some warmer weather than my hometown of Nashville, I would have called you crazy. But that has more to do with my expectations than reality as it was close to 70° F here Monday and in the 40° F range at home. We all carry our expectations with us and, for the most part, they are based upon the perspective gained from our experiences. That’s become very apparent to me this week at the International Lidar Mapping Forum (ILMF).

Many of us keep up with news and trends in the 3D imaging and mapping world and I think sometimes we run the risk of deciding that a fact must be correct because it is the product of groupthink when, in fact, we are all comparing new developments and technologies to the one we think they will replace.

The interesting point in this is that ILMF has shown me that the same item can be a success and a failure depending upon the expectations and perspective of the person making that decision.

– Cost: I attend a lot of conferences and quite often as an exhibitor. It is always a challenge to tweak your verbiage and message so that it resonates with the attendees at each show. This is never more apparent than when discussing the cost of hardware and software. We carry a lot of equipment from various manufacturers and I choose each with features as the defining consideration but I have to be aware of the cost or I will be deluding myself! At manufacturing conventions they don’t know what to think of our costs as their perspective has not given them access to cost comparison information. We are also new to them such that any comparison is far from “apples to apples”. At SPAR we are somewhere on the upper side of the middle when it comes to costs. At ILMF we are one of the least expensive things on the floor! Same hardware, same software, different expectations…

– UAVs: This is an area where groupthink is pervasive. It seems that we all think that it is simply a matter of time until UAV’s will be mapping the world. If there is any generally accepted impediment here in the US it is the FAA. However, in the opening session at ILMF a commenter from the audience gave me a new perspective when reminded me that UAV’s are not just trying to replace large aircraft or long term ground operations. Nowadays a pilot can be hired for $50 an hour and a small Cessna can be had for under $50,000. Given how much more opportunities can be afforded by the increased capabilities of this “dying” system maybe UAV’s have a lot more to overcome than just the FAA.

– Data Processing: In the AEC space we all seem to think that increased point cloud densities/speed/clarity will reduce the need for the conversion of point cloud data to modeled objects. However, the data processing on display at ILMF is not modeling in the graphic sense but feature extraction to a database for asset management via the GIS model. They are increasingly looking to terrestrial data (especially mobile terrestrial data) as an opportunity for growth. It will be interesting to see how the expectations for differing deliverables from these two disparate end points will drive software development since they are using the same import data.

– Personal Relationships: All successful business ventures have a successful personal relationship at their heart. In our global market this can be particularly troublesome or entertaining, depending upon ones expectations and willingness to view the world through another’s perspective. Case in point- I had dinner last night with a couple of French friends from Viametris. We dined at the Appaloosa Grill (which was great BTW). The confusion began when it became apparent to them that the Appaloosa Grill did not, in fact, serve horse meat. Frankly, it never occurred to me to think that it might. “But why would you name your restaurant a horse grill if you do not serve horse?” I was asked. It’s a good question if you have the correct perspective.

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