3D-imaging technology is reaching a bigger and bigger set of professionals these days, and it’s not just because LiDAR is coming down in price. Consumer 3D-scanning companies, which have long supplied inexpensive sensors, are starting to add features to make professionals take notice.
Occipital is one example. A few years ago, the company released a $350 consumer 3D scanner that plugs into an iPad and generates a point cloud of (most) any room or object in just a few minutes. Then Occipital upgraded its algorithms to reduce error significantly. Now, the company is upping its software game with the release of Canvas, a new 3D scanning app that offers up a simple end-to-end workflow for professionals (and hobbyists) who want quality deliverables fast and don’t need the last word in accuracy.
The first notable feature of the Canvas app is its intuitive user interface. As with some of the more expensive handheld 3D scanners on the market, Canvas guides you to ensure full coverage of the scanning area. It indicates parts of the room you’ve already scanned with what Wired calls a “paint-like filter.”
When you’re done “painting” the room with the scanner, the program immediately presents a full 3D model that you can use to extract necessary measurements.
Scan to CAD
If you want to use your scan as the basis for a retrofit or other kind of design work, Occipital has you covered with Canvas’ scan to CAD feature. Finish your 3D model, upload it to the company’s servers and Occipital will “convert your scan into an editable, properly layered CAD file.”
It’s not free, but $29 and a 48-hour wait will net you a CAD deliverable that you can use immediately in SketchUp, AutoCAD, Revit, 3D Studio Max, and so on.
As we all know, a CAD file based on real-world dimensions can be invaluable when you’re doing design and construction work. Now anyone can generate one for less than $1000. It may not be as accurate as you’re used to, but I bet it will suit some professional needs just fine.