You can create 3D Point Clouds in Reconstruct. These point cloud represent a similar result (with some specific differences) to what you can get by using a laser scanner. The table below compares between the point clouds created in Reconstruct using 360 cameras and those created by laser scanning. This comparison will help you decide when to use 360 cameras and when to use laser scanning.
What Are Point Clouds?
Point clouds contain millions of points that are floating in the 3D space. You can think of a point cloud as a picture, but in 3D where every pixel is located at a different 3D location in space, and has a different color. Displaying all these points together in their respective locations, provides a 3D model that (like a picture) reflect reality, hence the naming "Reality Models". These point clouds can be created by several methods, the top two of which are Laser Scanning and Photogrammetry.
Laser scanning creates point clouds by emitting a laser beam that bounces on an object and returns back to the scanner. The scanner can then estimate the distance between the scanner and the object that the beam bounced on by measuring the time it took the laser to return to the scanner. These types of laser scanners are called Time Of Flight (TOF) scanners. The main benefit of this method is that it is very accurate in small spaces. However, it has its limitations.
- Laser scanners are expensive ($16K to $250K)
- They must be operated by trained surveyors who understand survey concepts and theories
- It takes a significant amount of time, usually hours or even days to capture a job site
- It requires post processing of the captured data on very powerful and expensive computers in order to stitch separate scans into a unified point cloud
These characteristics of laser scanning makes it ideal for final documentation of the important parts of a project, or to verify flatness of surfaces. However, it also means that it requires a lot of resources to cover the equipment, training, and experienced labor, which makes it not ideal for weekly progress tracking.
Reconstruct 360 Cameras (Photogrammetry)
On the contrary of laser scanning, Reconstruct utilizes 360 videos to generate dense point clouds of construction indoor spaces. Using Reconstruct to generate the point clouds provides a different set of benefits and limitations.
- Affordable equipment ($400 for 360 camera, $150 stabilizer, $20 memory card)
- No need for surveyors or trained engineers, the camera can be operated by anyone after watching a 15 min video
- It is very fast, in average, you can cover 1,500 SF per minute of capture
- Post processing mostly happens on the cloud, no need to buy expensive computers or babysit the process