LIDAR created, millimeter accurate virtual environment mapper

System combines 3D scanning and augmented reality to created interactive spaces in which objects can be removed, added, or reconfigured

Software & Information Technology Electronics

A scientist at the Naval Information Warfare Center–Pacific Division has recently invented a system for rapidly scanning a complex environment, generating interactive 3D models, and cutting and pasting new objects into the virtual environment. The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

Advancements in scanning and processing technology have made it possible to generate 3D objects and 3D models of complex environments and to make virtual changes to the generated space. However, such processes typically are very time consuming, require large amounts of data processing and lack the accuracy needed for industrial use.

Using LIDAR technology, a team of Navy researchers has created the most detailed, accurate, interactive, and user-friendly virtual environment. The optical scanning system generates a point cloud of the space. Scans capture the walls, ceiling, and floor as well as objects in the space with high precision. Processing of the point cloud data results in surface reconstruction usable in 3D applications. Further processing involving decimation of points yields an environment with appropriate uniformity and manageable file sizes. Once the space is in a 3D model, it can be interacted with by removing, swapping, and adding objects from an object file library.

The virtual environment can be employed to create repeatable and verifiable measurements for remodeling and installation planning, as an interface for collaboration between design teams, as an intuitive way for engineers to identify installation discrepancies before making structural changes, and as an environment for virtual training with new installation equipment before it is even physically placed.

In addition to using these scans for remodeling or installations, they can be used to support training initiatives and future prototyping initiatives. Employees or crew members can train virtually in their workspace, with their exact equipment. New systems can be prototyped and inserted into the virtual environment for design and testing purposes.

The accuracy and resolution provided by the 3D model make the technology further appropriate for configuration management, legacy part capture, generating as-built diagram requirements, installation diagrams, and the creation of virtual reality environments for marketing and sales offers.

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