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Laser Scanning: The Basics

What is laser scanning, and how does it work? What are the benefits, and what options should you consider if you're thinking about using laser scanning on a project? Watch this video to learn the answers to these and other basic questions about this high-accuracy mapping technology. 


Alex: Hi, I'm Alex.

Lori: And I'm Lori.

Alex: So, you're interested in laser scanning.

Lori: Or, as we at Leica call it, high-definition surveying (HDS).

Alex: Right, and as the industry leader, we're delighted to tell you about it. First off, laser scanning is simply a method of high-accuracy mapping.

Lori: Or reality capture.

Alex: Right, Lori. However, unlike methods that only capture specific individual points one at a time, a scanner quickly captures rich detail of the entire scene. It's like a camera taking a 360-degree photo, but with an accurate position for every pixel.

Lori: Someone might ask, "What's good about that?"

Alex: One obvious benefit is getting better as-built or existing conditions information sooner. For design and construction projects, that translates into reduced risks and reduced costs.

Lori: And fewer sleepless nights. Topographic surveys are so detailed and so complete you'll rarely have to go back for more field work, even if something wasn't defined in the original scope.

Alex: And you can do them faster, too.

Lori: Monitoring surveys?

Alex: More comprehensive.

Lori: Volumetric surveys?

Alex: You can do them faster, too, and get more accurate results – and, oh yeah, there's no need to walk on hazardous piles.

Lori: Same for roadway surveys?

Alex: No need to stand in the road.

Lori: What about for forensic investigations and event preplanning?

Alex: You can virtually revisit a scanned scene on your computer any time for more measurements and verify what witnesses could or couldn't see. Because laser scan data is digital, you can use it with many types of software. For example, you can review proposed CAD designs in their real-world context.

Lori: Wow, those are some terrific benefits, Alex. But most importantly, you can save yourself, your clients, and even your clients' clients a lot of time and money.

Alex: And in the process improve your business with higher revenues and profits, new clients, and happier clients.

Lori: Wow, that's impressive. Okay, so how does laser scanning or high-definition surveying work?

Alex: There are two basic parts to it. First, there's the field work where the scanner captures the scene. Second is the office part. There, the field data is converted into the products and deliverables that you need. In the field you simply position the scanner so it can see and reach what you want, push a button, and let the scanner do all of the work.

Lori: What about photos?

Alex: The scanning process includes taking panoramic photos, if you want, for even more realism.

Lori: What about capturing an entire site?

Alex: You simply move the scanner to different vantage points for more scanning. Multiple scans are then stitched or registered together either as you scan or later on.

Lori: Scans can also be accurately georeferenced to coordinate systems, just like a standard survey. In the office our scan software enables users to efficiently create an endless variety of deliverables. From the simplest ones like 2D plans and elevations, user-friendly panoramic images with measurements instantly available from each pixel, clearances, point-to-point and point-to-surface measurements, high and low points and tie points, sections and profiles, volumetric reports, line-of-sight and crime scene witness viewpoints, and bullet trajectory analysis.

Alex: Our software also lets you create more advanced deliverables like detailed topographic maps, wire-frame and surface models, IsoPacks, links to asset information, fully textured models, fly-throughs, fully intelligent plant models, or building information models (or BIM), all by using our software. Basically, that's how it works.

Lori: One final question. What options do users have to take advantage of scanning?

Alex: There are three popular options. First you can buy a scanner and software and do high-definition surveys yourself. You can also rent scanners or software. Lastly, depending on your situation, a service provider can do all or part of it for you.

Lori: That brings us to Leica Geosystems. We're experts across the board. We're the world leader in the development, quality manufacturing, and sales of laser scanners and laser scanning software, and in customer support. Our specialists and representatives can train you on the field work and office part to create the deliverables you want. They're experts in all aspects, from the simplest to the most advanced.

Alex: We also have the world's largest and most experienced network of service providers with literally thousands around the world.

Lori: In short, we're the one-stop source to help you be successful with laser scanning. Regardless of what you want to use laser scanning for, Leica can help you with every step along the way, whether you want to use it for design, construction, asset and facility management, operations and maintenance, for marketing and proposals, forensics and security preplanning, education or entertainment, civil infrastructure, plant and industrial applications, buildings and BIM, heritage and archaeology.

Alex: Leica Geosystems is your one-stop shop for a tightly integrated, professional-grade, end-to-end laser scanning solution. To learn more watch our other videos in this series and be sure to check out our website.