Geo Week News

May 27, 2014

Weekly News Roundup

Gartner Hype Cycle

I’m totally addicted to Flipbook on my iPad and I came across a few stories this weekend that seemed particularly impactful to the world of 3D imaging. First the bad news, then the good!

A 2008 study by a professor of IT management at the University of Hawaii determined that 88% of spreadsheets contain errors. Let that sink in for a minute. I don’t know about you, but we use Excel and Google Spreadsheets for bidding, project management, equipment tracking and more. Here’s hoping that 90% of the spreadsheets in that 88% are not in the measurement sciences!

The national rail company of France, SNCF, announced that they discovered that the 2000 new trains they just ordered are a bit too wide to fit into some of the country’s train stations. The first thing I thought was, “Wow! If only they had a laser scanner, they would have saved millions!” However, it turns out that they do. In fact, in December of 2013, SNCF bought the very first Riegl VMX-450-Rail sold! While SNCF operates the trains, they have an independent company within the SNCF group named RFF that actually owns the railway route network. According to RFF spokesman Christophe Piednoël, the RFF transmitted the platform dimensions to SNCF, which was then responsible for ordering the new trains. However, RFF sent only the dimensions for platforms built within the last 30 years, as opposed to all platforms. Some 1200 regional platforms built over the past 50 years will have to be adjusted. Estimates vary between different reports, but the consensus seems to be that repairs have so far cost €50-80 million ($68-110 million).

Finally, some good news! Forbes posted a list this week of their best guess for the ten next $10+ billion industries. These choices appear to align with those on the Gartner Hype Cycle Chart that they released last year. Interestingly, three of them seem ripe for the inclusion of 3D imaging technology. At number four they have 3D printing, and the tie-in there is rather obvious. But the best news I found in this sector is its place on Gartner’s 2013 Hype Cycle chart: It’s literally at the “Peak of Inflated Expectations.” I know that sounds bad, but when you consider the fact that the chart puts 3D printers ahead of 3D scanners, I think you can see that they are talking about ubiquitous mass adoption as opposed to profitable use by industry experts.

Number five is smart cities. Anytime you start talking about automation and infrastructure in the same project, you know 3D mapping will play a key role.

The last good fit I saw for 3D imaging technologies was solar power, which made the list at number seven. Once again, we are looking at two sectors that are traditional homes for 3D mapping: infrastructure and energy. Only this time they are rolled into one! From the factories that will be needed to increase production of solar cells to the infrastructure needed to move the current around in both directions, the work needed to bring solar power to the mass adoption state may rival the size of the grid itself.

Considering that solar power installations in 2013 were valued at $13.7 billion, $10+ billion may be a bit short for this sector. The question I have is: Will these industries come to us or do we need to start going after them? 


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