Cyclone FIELD 360 boosts productivity in the field

Effortlessly pre-align point clouds directly in the field to ensure final registration with Cyclone REGISTER 360 requires minimal user input

Since its introduction in 2018, Leica Cyclone FIELD 360 is one of the only mobile-device apps on the market which can perform pre-registration procedures and point cloud alignment, in combination with the high-performing Leica RTC360 3D laser scanner and Leica BLK360 imaging laser scanner.

Prior to the introduction of Cyclone FIELD 360, registering point clouds to each other posed a key challenge when working with terrestrial laser scanners. There were some solutions on the market that offered registration in the field, however due to the data transfer time, computing time and high-spec hardware requirements, the data acquisition was slowed down which hindered productivity in the field. Cyclone FIELD 360 combined with the Lightweight Preview Object (LWPO) technology not only make pre-registration possible within seconds when in the field, it also allows customers to use their own Android or iOS mobile devices such as smartphones or tablet computers.

Let’s take a look at the key functionalities that make this ground-breaking technology possible:

Lightweight Preview Object (LWPO)
The LWPO technology within Cyclone FIELD 360 enables a visual representation of the captured scan data, using only a fraction of the actual scanned points. The data size is therefore dramatically decreased as well as the data transfer time between the laser scanner and mobile device. It provides instant visualisation of the captured scan data on your chosen mobile device which allows you to check and inspect the data for completeness. It is important to know that using LWPO in Cyclone FIELD is fundamental for enabling complicated operations, such as automatic point cloud alignment to be done with minimal time and resources on mobile consumer end devices such as smartphones or tablets.

3D View
Enabling customers to use their own mobile devices does come with its challenges. One challenge is managing different devices with limited capabilities while displaying and navigating large point clouds in 3D. This is made possible in part by limiting the total number of displayed points on the screen so data visualisation is still optimally performing. If a bundle consisting of multiple setups is displayed, the point cloud can appear to be more sparse than if only a single setup is displayed. Another strategy to manage the mobile devices capabilities is to link point cloud density to viewpoint distance. If the viewpoint is far away from the point cloud, a relatively small amount of points can represent the scanned area in sufficient detail. If on the other hand the user zooms in on a small area of the point cloud, more points are displayed to make sure every detail is visible. These two methods work simultaneously in the background without any user interaction needed to ensure a smooth and responsive experience when viewing and navigating point clouds in 3D.

One core feature of Cyclone FIELD 360 is pre-registering the down-sampled scan data to one another directly in the field. The relative scan positions resulting from the pre-registration help to reduce the final registration effort on the full datasets in the office. For maximum efficiency in the field, the pre-registration time cannot exceed the scan time in order to make sure that data acquisition in the field is not slowed down (the user is ready when the scanner is).

This pre-registration time is minimised by two factors:

  • Small calculation times (algorithms are optimised for LWPO data)
  • Streamlined workflow with minimal user input

The combination of these factors is what makes pre-registration of LWPOs in the field effortless and easy with Cyclone FIELD 360. Especially for BLK360 and RTC360 LT, the pre-align feature plays a key role with regards to both of the above mentioned factors.

Pre-align feature for BLK360
Cyclone FIELD 360 was first released with the RTC360 3D laser scanner in 2018 and since May 2019 it also supports the BLK360. While RTC360 delivers relative setup positions based on the Visual Inertial System (VIS) technology, the BLK360 does not have this feature so information about the relative setup positions is not available to start with. This means that before optimising the scan positions and creating a link, users would have to manually align the setups to each other in the field. Depending on the complexity of the environment, this manual alignment process takes time and can be prone to human errors.

To mitigate these risks and speed up the workflow, the pre-align feature was introduced with version 2.1 of Cyclone FIELD 360. Pre-align is a feature within Cyclone FIELD 360 which automatically aligns two scans (that share overlap) without any information about their approximate relative positions. In order to align the scans, at least three identical points in the overlapping areas must be known in both point clouds. Pre-align picks up to 3,000 points in both point clouds and matches points with similar geometric properties using clever algorithms.

Visualised matches (pink lines, 700 out of 3000) between points with similar geometric properties in two point clouds that share overlap: in arbitrary orientation and translation on the left, in correct orientation but incorrect translation in the middle and aligned to each other on the right.

All that’s left to do for the user in the field is to optimise the relative scan positions and create the link. The time taken for these three operations does depend on the mobile device used, however for powerful devices (e.g. iPad Pro 2018 with 4GB of RAM and Apple A12x Bionic chipset), pre-aligning two scans is achieved in less than three seconds and optimising their pre-aligned positions takes less than one second. Including the time to verify the results and create the link, it is fair to say that pre-registration of two LWPOs in the field can be completed in under five seconds!

Peace of mind
Using Cyclone FIELD 360 not only allows the user to inspect the captured scan data directly in the field, it also provides confidence that the final registration in the office will check out (enough overlap) and it speeds up the entire registration process by delivering approximate setup positions that can be utilised by the office software. Customers can potentially leverage all of these benefits without additional hardware costs or super-powerful computers in the field by simply downloading the free app on their Android or iOS smartphone or tablet computer.

Cyclone FIELD 360 is integral to our overall laser scanning workflow and continuous improvements are done to embed customer feedback and to further improve system productivity.

The Cyclone FIELD 360 mobile-device app is free to download. A valid Cyclone REGISTER or Cyclone REGISTER 360 licence is required to activate Cyclone FIELD 360.

Download the Cyclone FIELD 360 app from the App Store and Google Play.

For more information, please contact your local Leica Geosystems sales representative.

Jakob Lidl
Senior Product Engineer, Terrestrial Laser Scanning
Reality Capture Division

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