Geo Week News

May 17, 2011

SPAR Japan shows advancing market for 3D imaging


Attendees positive, despite adverse conditions

KAWASAKI, Japan—The seventh annual SPAR Japan conference kicked off today, organized by SPAR 3D’s Koji Kawamura with more than 500 attendees and 24 sponsors discussing the latest in 3D data capture, laser scanning, and imaging technology. Understandably, considering the trials this country has had to endure over the past few months, discussion centered around the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, but attendees were upbeat and focused on business applications for the technologies they had come to investigate.

One presenter, for example, elucidated the ways that GPS-enabled buoys provided valuable information about the size of the tsunami and how it took shape. Further, it was shown how aerial lidar data helped officials understand the scope of the destruction. On the show floor, many exhibitors and attendees discussed ways that laser scanning could be used to evaluate structural damage caused by seismic activity or used in nuclear facilities to create more complete facility maps that would be useful in the event of another major catastrophe.

For images from the event, view the slide show here. 

Perhaps most surprising for this reporter was how normal everything seemed. Between a day-long tour of Tokyo and my time here in Kawasaki, there was no evidence of any damage caused by the earthquake, and the only way you would know that major natural disasters had occurred would be the collection boxes next to cash registers asking for donations for the victims of the quake and tsunami, or escalators shut down to conserve power. The famous Ginza shopping district of Tokyo was somewhat subdued, with fewer neon signs glaring, and there are numerous signs hanging reminding people to turn off lights when not in use, but it was otherwise business as usual.

That meant mobile mapping vehicles from Topcon and Mistubishi parked outside Kawasaki Industry Promotion Hall, laser scanners on display from Riegl, Leica, FARO, Trimble, and Z+F, and software solutions from the likes of kubit, Bentley, Toshiba Plant, and Fuji Technical Research, among others. Those who had attended the show for many years commented that this year seemed different, in that attendees were much more likely to be talking about potential applications, rather than simply being introduced to the technology’s possibilities.

Of course, the conference also elicited a large amount of networking and socializing, and more than one attendee was kind enough, over sushi, to talk about what he or she was doing on March 11. The stories were both amazing and heartbreaking, but talk also soon turned to baseball and politics, and it’s clear the Japanese people are determined not to let the earthquake and tsunami define them.

They are eager to rebuild those areas, like Sendai, that were hardest hit, and if the technology on display at SPAR Japan can help, so much the better.

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