During a packed event at Autodesk University 2016, Leica introduced the BLK360, a brand-new entry-level scanner. When they brought it out, the room of industry veterans gasped.
Why? The scanner is small—only 6.5” tall, 4” in diameter, and 2.2 pounds. For those of you performing a quick mental comparison, the iPhone 7+ in your pocket is 6.23” tall, and 3.07” wide. The BLK360 is also just as beautiful as the best Silicon Valley has to offer, boasting minimalist industrial design work, a black finish, a glowing green ring around the bottom, and a single button.
I held one at the event, and it looks even better in person.
Despite the visual flair, the BLK360 is no consumer product. It gathers 360,000 points per second with selectable resolution settings. It has a range of 60 meters and scans with 4 mm accuracy.
In addition to a LiDAR sensor, the BLK360 includes infrared sensors for thermal imaging and 360° cameras. These cameras perform spherical imaging with HDR support and LED flash. The scanner performs a full 360° capture in 3 minutes. It’s also totally wireless.
The BLK360 is spec’ed out to be an entry-level Leica scanner, and it is priced to match. With a subscription to Autodesk’s ReCap 360, the BLK360 costs a market-leading $15,990.
Consider the BLK360 Leica’s play to make professional-quality reality capture available to anyone who wants it.
The Other Half: Autodesk ReCap 360 Pro Mobile
You might wonder how you’re supposed to operate a scanner with only one button. Here’s where Autodesk comes in. During the event, Autodesk announced its ReCap 360 Pro Mobile edition, which will run on the iPad and provide a controller for operating the BLK360.
This new iteration of Autodesk’s software registers the BLK360 scans in the field, in real-time. Autodesk’s cloud services enable sharing, or easy transfer of data into any Autodesk design software for further use.
The ease of use is important—the scanning workflow looks remarkably simple, and very intuitive. In other words, the workflow is accessible.
Even Newer than you Realize
As I was speaking to the Leica and Autodesk executives after the announcement, I learned that the BLK360 has been in the works for more than a year. For even longer than that, Leica has been working to fill the gap between extremely low-cost solutions that compromise on accuracy and the field of higher-priced survey scanners favored by the survey and AEC crowd.