Geo Week News

April 18, 2012

How to make an impression at SPAR, part 2


So, when I wrote yesterday about making an impression at SPAR, I wasn’t considering the impact of the weather. The rain definitely put a damper on a couple things. Once the sun cam out, LidarUSA did its best to go toe-to-toe with MDL’s integration of mobile and terrestrial scanning in one package. 

How do you make an impression at SPAR? Well, how about strapping your mobile/terrestrial scanning solution to a two-seat parachute plane? Here are LidarUSA’s Jeff Fagerman and the plane’s owner, Chris Lord of Pictaio, looking pretty pleased with the attention their vehicle was getting outside the Woodlands Marriott:


Yes, it does sort of look like a go-kart, but in fact it’s capable of doing 90 miles in one flight and you only need 12 hours of training to get your certification to fly the thing (which, yes, is a little scary). Inexplicably, too, the FAA doesn’t have a problem with it. Want to fly a two-kilo plastic UAV around and take some photos? Yeah, the FAA says you can’t do that right now. Want to fly this parachute plane around all day? No problem! 

Here’s a look of the LidarUSA unit strapped to the side. There’s a battery pack on the other side of the plane, but this is essentially the entirety of the GPS/IMU/laser scanner unit:


Plus, with the way it’s mounted, you can swap this unit off the plane and slap it onto something like a 4×4 in about five minutes (if you’re moving slow). Let’s just say people were paying attention. 

But that’s not all that was grabbing people on the show floor yesterday. I’ll have much more in-depth stuff about the technology unveiled at the show when I get back into the office, but I do want to note that things have definitely progressed from last year in just the way you’d hope. For example, last year the room was packed when Applanix demonstrated its indoor mobile-mapping solution. This year? Ho hum. There were no less than three different indoor mapping carts moving around the show floor – one of which was a robot made by Allpoint Systems you could control either with a tablet through instructions or with an X-box controller. 

Plus, there were some guys from CSIRO, a government agency in Australia, walking around with a weird hand-held bobblehead that was mapping indoor space in real time to a backpack. Let’s just say those guys were a hit at lunchtime. 

And remember how Sam Billingsley had people agape with augmented reality applications at last year’s show? Yeah, no big deal this year. Check out the little advert brand-new 360-degree-imaging firm NCTech put together to promote its device:


And if you think that’s cool, wait until you see the video I’ve got of the augmented reality solution Z+F had on display in their booth. Basically, they scanned a statue in the center square of their hometown and then not only created an augmented reality piece whereby you scanned a photo of the statue and had it pop up in manipulatable 3D on your phone with attendant information about the statue and video demonstrations, but they even printed out a foot-high copy of the statue to hang out in their booth. 

Love to see companies getting innovative with the industry’s own technology when they start thinking about marketing themselves. It’s a pretty great example of not just talking the talk but walking the walk. 

We’re going to have to step up our game internally at SPAR for next year. Mobile site? Pffft. We need to have an augmented reality app so that when you scan the door of the room you’re about to walk into you get a pop of of the speakers scheduled for the next session, with a link to their bios. I better get to work. 

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