Geo Week News

June 25, 2014

What is Hexagon's Content as a Service?

Ola Rollen

Thomas Edison knew it, Andy Warhol knew it, and it seems like Hexagon knows it — a lot can be accomplished when existing work is repurposed. This idea seems to be behind Hexagon’s long-awaited Content as a Service (CaaS) offering, which we originally mentioned in 2012 and Hexagon’s division presidents revisited during the keynotes at HxGN Live in Las Vegas a few weeks back. 

As Hexagon’s CEO Ola Rollén elaborated during the media lunch in the MGM Grand’s Craftsteak restaurant, “If you’re a surveyor and you buy an MS50 from us, we’re going to make sure that you can connect to — let’s call it an exchange.” (Rollén got some laughs joking that you can call the exchange “iTunes” because they “stole the idea from Apple.”) Once you are connected, he continued, you could “measure the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and upload that to our [exchange]. If someone is interested in your measurements of the MGM Grand, we can connect that measurement that you’ve just performed to the customer that is willing to purchase it. And for a small fee, we will make that happen.” Seems simple enough, as we’re all familiar with using iTunes and Google Play and so on.

The benefits of this sort of business model are probably clear. First, as Rollén notes, you can use the data that you collect “over and over and over again” by selling it on the exchange. After all, you may as well pull some extra revenue out of the hard work you’ve already done to take high-quality, accurate measurements. CaaS may also save you some money, too, because if someone has already taken the scans you need, you may not need to expend the effort or resources to take them again. What’s more, if you have an interest in historic measurements because you want to see how a site has changed over time, you can buy old scan of that site and compare to it to a new scan that you capture yourself. This will help you to obtain data in that ever-popular fourth dimension.

Rollén didn’t mention whether Hexagon will make the CaaS exchange available to those without a total station or other Leica scanning product, though it seems possible. I could imagine this exchange being useful to those who want a relatively inexpensive way to obtain measurement data.

As always with new technologies, there are concerns. The service may not be very useful to you if the data you need doesn’t exist yet. But Rollén says that Hexagon will begin by offering the extensive set of data they’ve already collected and then begin crowd-sourcing data in earnest. This means that the size of their offering could grow steadily in the coming years. 

This, in turn, raises the question of how the data will be QA’d. Other than the European and North American data supplied by Hexagon themselves, which is certified, it’s not clear how a company that uploads their data will prove that it’s as accurate as they say it is. There’s also the question of price: How much do you get paid when you sell your data? How much do you pay for data gathered by other people? These questions will likely be answered in the coming months.

One thing Rollén was absolutely certain about, though, is that this technology will be available to anyone who buys a total station, helping to guide the technology into the foreseeable future. “If you buy a total station from us,” Rollén says, “I promise you you’re going to be able to connect. One day or the other.”


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