Geo Week News

October 31, 2023

Satellite Imagery, 3D modeling, and more included in TIME’s Best Inventions of 2023

The list includes companies providing innovations in lidar, AI-enabled 3D modeling, Earth observation, and more.

Every year, TIME Magazine puts together a list of the best inventions from the previous 12 months, a group of products and ideas which covers a wide variety of industries and use cases. The list of 200 inventions is broken out into individual categories, covering everything from accessibility to AI to consumer electronics to food and drink, and so much more. 

On last year’s list looking at 2022’s best inventions, we saw a handful of companies from the reality capture and AEC industries, and beyond, make the list. Hexagon made it with their BLK2FLY, Exodigo made it for their subterranean mapping technology, Magic Leap was included for their newest enterprise AR glasses, and NVIDIA made it for their Instant NeRF technology. This year we again see companies from within our industry getting recognized on this prestigious TIME list, with inclusion for work with lidar, 3D modeling, and satellite imagery, with one company making the cut for a second consecutive year.


In the first half of the year, we saw an extremely innovative satellite company announce their intentions to capture elevation data of all of Earth using lidar. Nuview boasts a team with plenty of experience in the Earth observation space, with their leaders having worked with Planet Labs, the US Naval Research Laboratory, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and more. Right now, satellite imagery provides 2D views of the planet, and we have some areas of Earth 3D mapped using lidar, but Nuview plans to capture the entire planet in this way. Their satellites won’t be live for another couple of years, but as indicated in their TIME write-up they already have $1.2 billion in business agreements. Nuview was included in the “Experimental” category for TIME’s list.


It’s no surprise to see that NVIDIA is the aforementioned company who has now made this list in two straight years given that they are among the world’s most valuable companies. Much of that value has been created on the back of their chips, which have been used to power AI applications across industries, but that’s not what lands them on this list. Instead, much like with NeRFs last year, it is with 3D modeling technology. In fact, this year’s innovation builds upon that with their Neuralangelo product, which takes 2D videos and uses AI models to transform assets from the video into 3D replicas. The model was made “source available” in August of this year. Like Nuview, Neuralangelo was part of TIME’s “Experimental” category.


Unlike Nuview and NVIDIA, who specialize in the relevant technology – lidar and 3D modeling, respectively – for Geo Week, onX simply utilizes the technology for the product. The product in question, onX Recent Imagery, is for outdoor enthusiasts to get the latest insights into the world around them. To do this, they tap into Earth observation imagery derived from Planet Labs, which is updated every two weeks. According to onX, their imagery is twice as detailed compared to competing apps. onX Recent Imagery was included as part of TIME’s “Outdoors” category.


Sticking with the satellite theme, which encapsulates three of the four companies included on our list, Pixxel uses hyperspectral imaging for their products, which also earned them a mention on Fast Company’s list of most innovative companies earlier this year. TIME included them on their list for Pixxel’s ability to help tracking the health of forests using their satellites. From their writeup, they say, “With three satellites in orbit and six more planned for launch, the Google-funded company’s constellation can help monitor forests, track crop health, and look for methane leaks.” TIME put Pixxel within their “Sustainability” category on the list.

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