Laser Scanning in Architecture: Revolutionizing The Way We Measure
The rate at which technology is progressing is staggering and hard to keep up with. There seems to be new hardware and software constantly coming out that makes life easier. One new development in the Architecture and construction world is Laser scanning.
Laser scanning is a technology based on a LIDAR sensor that shoots a laser 360 degrees and measures the distance between the scanner and the object – think of echolocation but with light. This process produces measurements as accurate as 1/32 of an inch. On top of the measurement aspect, the scanner also captures photographs, in both color (visible light) and infrared (this helps in dark spaces).
When scanning an existing building, a technician would take hundreds of scans by moving the scanner from one place to another. The built-in software then stitches all these scans together to create one large scan/3d model of the building.
The benefit of these scans is that they create a record copy of the building at that point in time. This allows us to then visit the building anytime by simply opening the 3d scan, walk the building and taking measurements within a compatible viewer.
Pros of Scanning a Project
1. Accuracy of the measurements
- Scanning accuracy is measured from the scanner to the target. Laser scanners on average have an accuracy of 2 mm @ 10 m or 1/32 in @ 32 ft 8 in.
2. Full 3D images and measurements of the existing conditions
- Inevitably when you manually measure and document a project, you tend to miss measurements or forget to take a picture of something important. – not the case with a scan.
- When inputting manual dimensions, there always seems to be a discrepancy between walls as you start to input the dimensions into the computer; due to walls not always being 90 degrees. This can create a gap in dimensions, and you struggle to figure out what is causing this, which could result in another site visit to verify.
Cons of Scanning a project
- Due to the cost of the equipment and time to scan an existing space results in higher cost per square feet.
- Depending on the size of the project being scanned, it could be a couple days to a few weeks to get a scan back. This is because of the time to scan and time to stich the scans together. As technology gets more advanced, I can see this getting a lot faster, and eventually instant.
What the future may bring
At the rate of innovation in the industry and the every growing development in drone technology. I can see a day where you carry a pocket size drone to sites and deploy it with the task of documenting the building. No longer would you have to be present – this drone would fly through spaces capturing real time images and measurements, building a 3d model of the building.
This may seem like science fiction, but companies like Leica, are already developing a version of this called the Leica BLK2FLY. This device’s current use case is for scanning exteriors of buildings and large open spaces such as arenas and open structures. However, if you improve the technology, dramatically reduce the cost, you can envision this translating to an all-purpose scanner that would revolutionize the way we measure.
Navigating the Next Wave of Architectural Innovation
To sum up, the evolution of laser scanning technology is reshaping how we measure and document in architecture and construction. Its accuracy and efficiency are unparalleled. As this technology continues to advance, embracing it becomes crucial. For those interested in integrating these innovations into their work, Arc Three offers specialized design services that align with the cutting-edge of architectural measurement. The future of building documentation is here, and it’s more precise than ever.