June 28, 2011

Manufacturers weigh in on future of the market


HOUSTON – At the SPAR International conference, held here in late March, any number of manufacturers and service providers used the conference as an opportunity to give their views of the future of the 3D imaging and data capture marketplace. If their vision of the future is correct, then the products they’ve designed to help their customers manage that future are appropriate. If not, the market will show they’ve made mistakes in their product development and the market will leave those companies behind. 

And their customers with them.

So, we at SPAR 3D took the opportunity to speak with four firms that represent a wide swath of the 3D market – Alice Labs, Bentley Systems, Trimble, and Topcon – and ask them what it is their customers want and what it is their companies are doing to address those needs. 

A recurring theme centered on helping customers make sense of the huge influx of data that modern 3D laser scanners are delivering. It would seem just about every software manufacturer has as its goal that of streamlining the processing that must occur once 3D data is collected. Whether it’s automated feature extraction, or faster registration, or quicker aligning of coordinate systems, just about everyone is trying to make the user of the data’s job easier. 

With Alice Labs, this topic led to a discussion of engaging the end users of the data in the first place. How do we best get feedback from the asset owners and survey firms and others who are using 3D data to make decisions about their businesses and facilities? What can be added to point cloud data to make it more user friendly and how do we find out what “user friendly” means?

You can see the full interview with Elmer Bol, founder and CEO of Alice Labs, here:


With Bentley, this conversation led to the company’s emphasis on attaching more intelligence to point clouds and data points in general. What good is data if end users have no context in which to put it? Speaking with Ron Gant, head of marketing for civil applications, we heard that the company is looking to help customers more quickly associate point clouds with real world objects, getting them more quickly from design through to actual operations.

You can see the full interview here:


Bryan Williams, market manager for Trimble’s survey division, also mentioned a need for more intelligent data. Along with that, however, comes a need for more intelligent workflow. Trimble is very interested, he said, in helping customers understand how it is that data gets from capture by the scanner all the way to information that people can actually use to make decisions. 

Construction sites, especially, need real-time feedback of current conditions. How can Trimble help them get that feedback more quickly?

See the full interview here:


Finally, Topcon’s Fred Moser, laser scanner sales manager, said he’s seeing a real push for an industry standard for deliverables and data formats. How will Topcon participate in that discussion? What it aims at is ease of use, in the end. Regardless of whether scanners get smaller, lighter, faster, and cheaper (and they will), if they don’t get more easy to use, if the standard field technician can’t set them up properly and judge the quality of the data being captured, they won’t be widely accepted. 

See Moser’s take on where the market is headed here:


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