April 23, 2014

What was the game changer at SPAR International 2014 (continued)?


Industry veteran Travis Reinke provides his post-event take on the 11th annual SPAR International. He shared his thoughts on opening day here 

As a long-time SPAR attendee and what some may call an industry veteran, I have been both amazed at the growth of the conference over the last 11 years and a little disappointed in our industry as a whole. While newcomers are likely to obtain a great wealth of knowledge from the exhibit hall and great selection of sessions covering every aspect of the 3D imaging industry, there are those of us who come looking for what’s next… what’s the next game changer? FARO did it back in 2010 when they caught the entire industry off-guard by introducing a piece of hardware that was a fraction of the size, weight and costs of the competition. That kind of disruption doesn’t need to happen every year, but we are certainly due for another shake-up.

I have my own opinions about what was hot this year, but to be fair I decided to take to social media to get a fair and balanced assessment with this request on day 2 of the conference:

“Hey #spar2014 attendees, what have you seen that stands out? No useless gimmicks, I’m interested in writing about real-world solutions.”                 

This post received numerous favorites, likes and retweets, but only one response from Matt McCarter (@oatfedgoat):

@TReinke3D well said. We as an industry crave innovation. We should not accept gradual step changes as game changers as the vendors peddle.”

Matt didn’t in fact attend SPAR this year, but as an industry expert who attended SPAR Europe last November, he’s got a strong grasp of the market. He summed up my opinion nicely.

It’s 2014! We expected to have flying cars by now, yet we can’t do much more than we could 14 years ago when I got into this industry. Sure, the hardware has become better, faster and cheaper, but the software has improved at a significantly slower rate. It’s great to see Autodesk finally starting to take our industry seriously. They are creating some great tools and giving everyday users the ability to easily work with large datasets. They still have a long way to go in my opinion, but I love to see the big guys stepping up.

For me, the theme for SPAR 2014 was “What’s Old is New.” There was a lot more talk about photogrammetry, especially as it pertains to the hot topic of UAVs. Autodesk’s ReCap line of products are certainly something to keep an eye on. The ability to upload a large number of images captured from inexpensive devices like the GoPro Hero and quickly process a 3D model in the cloud is truly remarkable. Should we as professionals be afraid, or should we embrace it? I think it’s the same as what we have been saying about laser scanning for years. It’s just another tool in our toolbox. We should embrace all forms of data collection. If we don’t, we are going to be left behind.

While not a game-changer, I was very excited about Z+F’s announcement of a thermal imaging attachment that will work on any IMAGER 5010-series scanner. Pricing and availability are not yet available, but this long-awaited solution is expected to cost around $20,000 USD. The merging of thermal imaging and point cloud data is not new, but it has been very difficult until now. Kudos to Z+F for continuing to innovate and add value to their products as opposed to other manufacturers who continue the trend of stripping out the great features of their products in order to offer their systems at a lower cost.

Sadly, there were no real game-changers this year, in my opinion. However, what you are guaranteed to get year after year at SPAR is access to some of the smartest and most talented individuals in our industry, most of whom I call “friends.” I look forward to seeing you all next year in my hometown of Houston, Texas. For those who don’t know, everything is bigger in Texas so exhibitors, bring your game-changer next year or stay home!


Reach Travis at [email protected].


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