Geo Week News

September 30, 2020

Moving past the shiny new toy: 3D tech's ROI moment is here


While we are all aware that there is an ebb and flow to technology development, it can sometimes be humbling to reflect upon how quickly everything can change. In addition to the technology itself changing – processors getting tinier and faster, scanners getting more portable, and processing getting more and more streamlined – our attitudes and willingness to adopt technology is also changing.

Take, for example, 3D reality capture.

The concept of reality capture (and its enhanced real-time “digital twin” counterpart) was born out of the drive to have better information. More accurate measurements of distance, more realistic models of field conditions and creating visualizations of the world “as built” all provide added value. If you look at some of the articles on SPAR 3D from several years back, you’ll see that there was quite an emphasis on convincing potential adopters that this technology would be worth it, and would have a return on investment (ROI) that justified its cost.

Rather than being rare, 3D reality capture is almost becoming commonplace. Even in my rural location in Maine, I run into reality capture. Last week I drove a worker using a tripod-mounted laser scanner to capture a bridge that is slated to be replaced, and last month the Department of Transportation in Maine announced it would be trialing 3D capture technology to more quickly asses salt and road material inventory.

As larger firms adopt technology like lidar and augmented reality as a part of their everyday workflows (rather than add-ons), it feels like we have moved past the “shiny new toy” phase and into one where ROI is no longer theoretical, but demonstrable. For a construction firm, they now have enough experience to see that capture techniques have quantifiable benefits – from labor saved from rework to fewer site accidents or massive cost savings that have arisen from preventing errors in the first place.

The conversation is changing from hesitant discussions of potential gains from adopting reality capture and other 3D tech to decisions about whether or not to upgrade, how to license software, and what cloud services can support workflows. It is not a question of whether reality capture will be adopted, but rather one of how can it best be adopted for a particular situation.

In an upcoming webinar hosted by SPAR 3D – Where 3D Tech Provides Extreme ROI – we’ll dive into some of these bigger examples of ROI – where tech has had major impacts on a variety of projects. A panel of experts will discuss what it means to measure the value of such endeavors in more ways than one, and where they see even more potentials for massive savings in time, cost, or worker safety.

We hope you’ll join us to be a continuing part of that conversation – and we’ll continue to cover those technologies that are pushing towards better, more efficient work.


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