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Integrating Reality Capture - HxGN Radio Podcast

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Leica Geosystems, Matterport and Multivista are partnering to create innovative solutions for the AEC market. With the Leica BLK360 imaging laser scanner, Matterport Pro2 Camera and Multivista construction documentation software, AEC professionals can explore spaces, design ideas and perform reality capture like never before.

BK: Welcome to HxGN Radio. My name is Brian. Thanks for joining us. We have Juergen Mayer from Leica Geosystems, Bill Schmidt from Matterport, and Brian Smith from Multivista with us to discuss the integration of reality capture. Thanks for joining us, gentlemen.

JM: Thank you.

Brian S: Great to be here.

Bill S: Thanks.

BK: All right, I’m excited. We’re going to do little rounds here and have some different conversations. Juergen, we’re going to start with you, but let me give an overview of what we’re talking about today. Leica Geosystems, Matterport, and Multivista are partnering to create innovative solutions for the AEC markets. With the Leica BLK360 Imaging Laser Scanner, Matterport Pro2 camera, and Multivista construction-documentation software, AEC professionals can explore spaces, design ideas, and perform reality capture like never before. So, tell us more about the BLK360 and how it’s being used in the AEC market, Juergen.

JM: Yeah, as you mentioned before, it’s an Imaging Laser Scanner—that’s what we call it—and that’s because it has aspects of a camera, so it takes nice high-resolution images of a scene, but it also has aspects of a laser scanner, so it will add very rich and precise 3D data to it. And what that means is that by, literally, the push of one button, you can capture the reality of a scene in high detail. And basically, what you do is you freeze that moment, and you can then put that virtual model of reality into a cloud environment, like it is provided by Matterport. This where this collaboration becomes so exciting. And you can use this data for all sorts of applications in the AEC environment, but primarily it’s an as-built documentation of the state that the scene is in. And, unlike traditional methods where someone would have to go to a site and take a tape measure of a distance or something, you can now virtually go to this environment, you can always go back. You can do this from different places in the world, as it’s a cloud-based solution, and collaborate based on this central piece of virtual reality, essentially. And we use that for all sorts of applications in renovation, refurbishment, and progress documentation of construction sites. This is where Multivista comes in.

BK: Excellent, excellent. Bill, how does the Matterport work with the BLK360, then?

Bill S: You know, I would start by saying a few things about what Matterport does. It’s a 3D immersive media platform that is used to capture, reconstruct, and then share and collaborate around real-world spaces … but to do so virtually, using the depth-sensing imaging cameras such as the BLK360. The BLK is now working seamlessly with our platform and producing just some amazing, stunning results. It’s really—you kind of have to see it to believe it. The platform itself starts with a push button—simple to use, easy to use—application for capture that registers scans as you go. It provides real-time visual feedback as you’re scanning, and it ensures that you have a complete capture. When you finish the job, you can look at all the results and know before you’re done and before you leave the site. And then our cloud solution takes that; reconstructs it into this immersive media 3D model, with no post-processing required whatsoever. Then we provide integrated tools for augmenting, annotating, labeling, measuring the space, and then ultimately a showcase solution to allow you to view it from anywhere, with just a browser. And so we’re taking—the BLK360’s working seamlessly with this capture app all the way through, and we’re producing these models based on some fantastic data coming out of that camera.

BK: Cool. Well, Brian, how does Multivista construction-documentation services support the integration of these technologies?

Brian S: You know, we get to benefit from the collaboration that’s happening with Matterport and Leica. This is a great opportunity for us because we get to choose whether we want to use a BLK360 or a Matterport Pro2 camera, and it really is a matter of deciding what tool to use for that right job. And it does make a difference when you’re actually in the field using that tool, and it becomes more of a decision and a process to be able to deliver that right product for that customer. And on the construction-documentation side, being able to provide that immersive environment for that customer and know what that deliverable is … it’s  hugely beneficial to add the benefit of having that BLK360, which can go outside. So, there’s pros and cons to both sides of it, and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each tool really provides this new opportunity for both Matterport and Leica to be able to explore boundaries that have never been explored before in capturing immersive environments and delivering that to Multivista’s customers. Our customers are all about construction documentation, whether it’s in the field—we were recently even in a mine—you know, things like that, where you never thought you could bring this immersive environment measurable data into that world. It really is now democratising that reality-capture data set.

BK: Very helpful thing.

Brian S:  Very, very helpful. And it’s one of those tools that … point clouds are amazing, and the data that’s captured inside of the point cloud is really rich … but having the immersive environment, the quality of the photos, to be able to walk through and experience that space, it’s unparalleled.

BK: That’s great. You’re going to build—now, you recently announced added capabilities for digital property walkthroughs, with the use of the BLK360 and Matterport’s media platforms. Tell us a little bit more about that.

JM: Bill already touched on it. The goal really was to come up with a full end-to-end solution that covers all the steps of data capturing, of visualising—we mentioned immersive 3D environments a couple of times, which are key to this whole workflow—and to provide means of efficiently interacting with the data that Bill alluded to, a little bit more.

Bill S: Yeah. I mean, one of our primary outputs is a digital property walkthrough—we also call them a 3D immersive experience—and we also have, I think it’s mentioned, a depth-sensing camera, the Pro2, which is infrared-based, which obviously provides for a different set of capabilities. In fact, it’s highly complementary with the BLK360, and it can be used collectively with the BLK on a single space, using that one capture app. So, we’re really well suited for interior spaces that are a few thousand square feet, while the BLK is ideal for capturing large interior and exterior spaces. A great example is what we did together as a test. We scanned the Stanford Linear Accelerator, which is a beast of a building, and we used the BLK to capture the wide, open spaces, including the ceilings that were well over 30 metres high. And then we used the Pro2 to scan the sort of mechanical areas that were really tight and often, you know, less than 10 feet wide. Our camera doesn’t have the range, but it does move a little faster, so you can kind of work your way through the details. So, what resulted was just a complete picture of that space that you can tour and walk through on your own, and it’s unprecedented what we can do together.

BK: Now, why did you all three decide to partner on this?

JM: Well, you know, if you look at this partnership, every party brings very distinct capabilities. So, there is the sensor side, obviously, that is provided by Leica. You know, having this BLK360 obviously opens up new possibilities in, you know, what kind of implications and what kind of objects can be covered. There is the expertise of Multivista in the progress-documentation aspects, and everything comes together in the Matterport platform that then uses this data to create the value for our customers, essentially.

Brian S: Yeah. And what’s neat about delivering that to the end user, is being able to not just capture that immersive environment, but then also to provide that rich 3D data set. And having both of those as a deliverable is hugely beneficial to all our stakeholders. So, it doesn’t have to just be that rich immersive environment, or it doesn’t just have to be the point-cloud users; they’re able to immerse themselves in both environments with one data capture, and that’s very, very important.

JM: In a very natural way.

Brian S: Oh, yeah. For sure.

Bill S: Yeah, I’ve got to give credit to Multivista, who we connected with. We were partnering with them, and they were using this solution because they saw a need in the field, on the ground, where it matters, to provide this kind of immersive walkthrough experience. And they wanted to combine it with what they were doing, and obviously with their relationship with Leica, they wanted to incorporate the BLK and kind of brought us together, I think. I think what matters is that it really is working and adding value in the field to very specific use cases, and the end customers are just loving the benefits here.

Brian S: Yeah, exactly. And having the ability to engage at that democratised level of just an immersive environment is hugely beneficial, and that’s something that two-dimensional floorplans just can’t do, or even a rich 3D point cloud is very hard to communicate or navigate through. But an immersive environment, we can all walk through it literally, and that is something that is … if you could say a picture’s worth a thousand words, then how many words is a Matterport model worth, right, because that …

Bill S: A million!

JM: Ten million!

Brian S:  How many scans did we take, is really what it comes down to. But, yes, it definitely is very, very beneficial for us to be able to partner with you guys and reap the benefits of both technologies and play them at the right opportunities to capture that environment.

BK: Oh, that’s great. I love to hear that. Well, how do you think your partnership is changing the future, shaping the future, of the AEC industry?

JM: I think we’ll essentially be setting new standards of how people are going to collaborate on the construction projects. And Brian mentioned the importance of the immersive 3D virtual reality, actually, that people communicate through. But in the end, people have to solve real-world problems, and I think we’re giving them a good tool to do that.

Brian S: Yeah. On my side of it, the partnership is just such a groundbreaking change because we’re taking two hardware manufacturers and a SaaS solution and getting past the issues of who does what and what each company does, and solving problems, industry problems. And that’s really what we’re here to do, and that’s what I love to see about what we’re trying to do, is taking the best of the best and providing a single-source solution for that. And really—who wins? It’s not just the customer; it’s the clients, it’s the service providers. They’re all going to benefit from the partnerships.

BK: It’s good to see the win-win-win. So that’s great.

Bill S:  Yeah, I think 3D immersive media is going to become a standard, and I think we’re going to help bring it to that point. And I think it’s proven, and Multivista can probably attest to this, the benefits to a variety of industry use cases … just to be able to virtually visit a space, go back to it time and time again without having to go back to that space physically, I think is just crucial. And, obviously, we’ve talked about as-built and construction documentation, all these other things, but I think being able to bring reality to the online world is just super-critical, and it’s going to change the market.

BK: Any future predictions on this market that you’re looking at right now?

Bill S:  Sure. You know, I think one thing that Matterport is watching keenly is augmented reality, and I think 3D capture has a big enabling role to play here because I think others have mentioned that we’re democratising 3D capture. We’re making it available broadly to the mass market by virtue of our technology and our technology partnership. And 3D content … to be able to understand where you are in a space … is critical. Otherwise, I think augmented reality ends up a little bit transitory. You’re there one time, then you’re not. And it doesn’t know where you are specifically in a space and has trouble with things like occlusion and other things. So, to be able to understand where you are in that space because you’ve scanned it, and then create an author, an AR  experience opens up a broad set of interesting use cases around automation of training, facilities management, construction, collaboration, … all sorts of things.

Brian S: Yeah, and, Bill, to dovetail on what you’re talking about. The AR experience really brings in everything that immersive experience has, but in a first-person perspective and being able to experience environments that maybe you wouldn’t be able to go to. So, like you said, I always look at life safety as well, right? I mean, we tend to hone, to go to AEC or construction or those kinds of things … but being able to also provide that experience of actually being there. An example where all three of us partnered again together is the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and going and doing a preservation project for Taliesin West. And that is an environment where they specifically said we can’t invite people into these certain areas. So now we’re allowing people to immersively experience, in AR, these areas within the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Taliesin West and future places where they couldn’t experience that before. And I think having that AR experience –

it’s neat to look at it immersively – but being able to experience it seamlessly as if you were there, to look around intuitively, is really, beneficial. It really democratises the data once again from just pictures to video or that immersive experience to naturally being able to look around and experience that space.

JM: I agree. I think democratising a 3D reality is happening already, and we’ll see more and more uses of virtual reality and augmented reality, driven by collaborations like this one and triggered by new advancements in technology. So that’s for sure a trend that is unstoppable.

Brian S: And there’s so many benefits. I mean, it could be, like I said, life safety all the way to AEC to collaboration and construction. It’s amazing. It doesn’t stop, because it really—once that environment becomes natural to everybody, it’ll be like picking up a phone.

BK: Well, creating new standards is always important, so I’m glad you guys are doing that. And thanks for joining us today and taking time and sharing. This is good stuff.

Bill S: Thank you.

JM: Thank you.

BK: For more information on this, visit leica-geosystems.com, matterport.com, and multivista.com. And, of course, you can listen to additional episodes of HxGN RADIO. Go over to hxgnspotlight.com. Thank you for tuning in today. Have a great day!

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