What is a point cloud

One of the latest technologies to come out in the mapping world is point cloud. Many people may be familiar with lidar already, but what exactly is point cloud? Point cloud data is a format of storing laser range scans as 3D points represented as X,Y and Z coordinates that can also include RGB color values.

Development: how was point cloud developed

One method of creating point clouds is through LIDAR (light detection and ranging). This advanced technology creates accurate 3D models from high resolution scans taken from aerial or terrestrial vehicles. These systems use lasers instead of radio waves to detect objects and determine distance information by timing how long it takes for pulses to bounce back to the system. Although lidar systems typically create better quality data for building  and engineering purposes, the point cloud data format provides a more affordable option for landscape and environmental mapping.

Lidar has been used for decades so why is point cloud a new technology?

Point cloud software combines many advantages of lidar with some benefits of its own. Although the quality is not as high as lidar it is still very accurate and can be used to create models that are just as detailed, yet more cost effective. One of the main features that make point clouds a great alternative to lidar is its ‘cloud’ capabilities. Lidar requires extensive processing time to generate their 3D data which takes up system memory and slows down computers or laptop systems. Point clouds on the other hand can be viewed immediately after scanning making them  more versatile.

Another advantage of point cloud is that it can store both lidar and digital photos in the same file, making them suitable for photogrammetry projects where accurate 3D data is needed to match images together. By converting these files into models with point cloud software, users can accurately observe any changes on terrain after events such as floods or earthquakes more quickly than ever before.

What are some examples of point cloud?

Point clouds are used extensively in various industries including mapping, construction, mining, infrastructure management and engineering. It has become an increasingly popular tool among geomatics engineers because it provides a fast, cost effective solution for modeling applications through its access to more efficient workflows. Utility companies use this technology to detect gas leaks that can turn into major disasters. Utilities can detect leaks and correct them before they become hazardous to the public and cause damage to surrounding infrastructure, property and environment.

How is point cloud data different than other data?

One of the biggest advantages point clouds have over lidar is its affordability compared with lidar systems. Point clouds are also lighter in weight, more portable, easy to use and require less training. For many mapping scenarios such as surveying for construction sites or land development projects , this technology provides faster results in a less time-consuming manner without sacrificing accuracy. It’s no wonder point cloud software has become an integral tool for GIS professionals working in the geomatics industry.

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