Geo Week News

March 24, 2015

SPAR 2015 Preview


SPAR 2015 is upon us and I am very excited about the lineup this year. Having been on the advisory board for the past two years I’ve been able to watch the conference from the inside and I feel like this year may mark a turning point. I’ve been to all but one SPAR International since its inception, and I have seen the show slowly morph into its current state. However, it seems to me that it is in an adolescent phase that is about to end as the scanning and 3D imaging market has matured as we know it. A quick look at this year’s lineup of presenters and exhibitors has a lot of new faces and is an indicator of the rapid expansion of 3D technologies into a plethora of new industries. So, what are the drivers that are changing SPAR? (IMHO, of course…)

Computing Power.
It wasn’t so long ago that point cloud processing required a cutting edge workstation and a bit of time. Now you can log on to a cloud service with your phone and process data. This will change the way that we work with data (and already has for some). Considering that data processing is the largest expense, the ripple effects of this trajectory will undoubtedly change a conference devoted to covering our industry.  

Visualization Tools.
One look at this year’s exhibitor list and you will immediately see what I mean. DAQRI with the Smart Helmet, Euclideon’s Hologram Room, Atheer Smart Glasses… We’ve struggled for years to get our data in front of clients and many of those problems are not only being solved but superseded with completely new visualization systems!

Lower Costs.
We have all found ourselves at some meeting discussing what seems to be a perfect application for scanning or 3D imaging only to find out that it was cost prohibitive. The trend is definitely toward lower cost hardware and software. As scanning technologies become less expensive we see new verticals open up to our tools and services.

Democratization of Tools.
At the early SPAR conferences the hardware shown was a finished product. You couldn’t buy a camera for a scanner, but you could buy a scanning system with an onboard camera. People were not selling software that auto-cleaned point clouds, but a software suite that included some cleaning tools. All of that is changing. We are seeing more à la carte hardware and middleware designed for specific purposes. The ability to plug and play a lot of this has allowed for some impressive designs to be brought to market at a previously unheard of speed. Most CAD users are now (by default and at little or no cost to them) point cloud end users. Almost everyone I’ve met that starts using point clouds never goes back. Once you see what it’s like to fill the void, working in a vacuum becomes unacceptable.

Reunion of the Point Cloud All-Stars!
If the entire conference grew at the rate that this band has, SPAR would already be bigger than Autodesk University. One of the best things about being in a relatively young industry is that so many people had a “pre-scanning” career. For a lot of us, that seems to have included music. But seriously, the networking opportunities are endless. I’ve met some of my best clients at SPAR and even more have shown up to “vet” me leading to us actually closing deals at SPAR. I look forward to seeing you all in Houston next week. If we haven’t met before feel free to introduce yourself if you see me; after all, that’s why we’re wearing name tags!

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