Put the Point Cloud in Your Pocket with Cyclone FIELD 360
Laser scanning solutions hold great promise for users to develop digital reality deliverables across industries and use cases. For example, scanning provides an important resource for professionals who make time-critical captures, like documenting crash scenes or digitally preserving endangered heritage sites. Businesses benefit as well – a burgeoning design firm can record accurate architectural details to create renovation plans and offer compelling 3D visualisations to clients.
While the potential is clearly in view, accessibility issues like cost or technical expertise have kept reality capture on the distant horizon for many. However, Apple’s 2020 release of iPhones and iPads equipped with LiDAR sensors suddenly made scanning available to an array of new users.
Leica Cyclone developers saw this as an opportunity to augment their field application, Leica Cyclone FIELD 360, with innovations that both enhance capture results for existing users of Leica Geosystems laser scanners and support stand-alone scanning for those newly enabled by Apple’s LiDAR sensors.
In this Expert Insight, Simona Hriscu, terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) Product Engineer in Leica Geosystems' Reality Capture division, answers questions about these developments and shares how Cyclone FIELD 360 can put the point cloud in your pocket.
Since its inception, Cyclone FIELD 360 has become a crucial tool for initial point cloud processing. Can you review the background of the app and introduce key features of the release?
Cyclone FIELD 360 is the field application that controls most Leica scanners, including the Leica RTC360, Leica BLK360, and Leica ScanStation P-Series. It’s the only software that can perform in-field registration, enrich the data with measurements and tags and clean the point cloud directly in the field. Additionally, FIELD 360 lets you export data in different formats and forward data to office software.
With our new release, the main added functionality is that you can use the integrated LiDAR sensors in the latest models of iPhone Pro and iPad Pro to capture stand-alone scans or complete existing point clouds captured with your Leica Geosystems scanners. Another feature, which I think will make a big difference, is the clean-up tool, which allows you to clean your point cloud in the field, ultimately helping with registration.
One trademark of Cyclone FIELD 360 is user friendliness and intuitive guidance. Can you tell us more about user experience and the new functionalities?
Cyclone FIELD 360 is intuitive and modern, no matter which platform you are using. During development, we kept a strong focus on user experience, from navigation to visibility in the field based on colour pathways. It’s about expanding capabilities, not confusing users so all of this has been carefully thought out in design.
For example, when using the new LiDAR functionalities in the iOS version of the app, you can create a job without being connected to a scanner. FIELD 360 understands that the LiDAR sensor will be used. When ready to begin, the “start scan” button is clearly differentiated from the TLS button for our sensors. Additional visual cues and step-by-step guidance ensure that our existing and new users alike will be able to easily incorporate this feature into their workflows.
Can you walk us through how someone would add scans from LiDAR sensors from Apple devices into their workflow, with or without Leica Geosystems laser scanners?
We have two types of workflow scenarios in mind. The first one is a stand-alone workflow where you can create scans by using only the Apple LiDAR sensor. Basically, you pick up the iPhone or iPad, start scanning and, importantly, the software treats these scans the same as TLS scans, like the RTC360 or BLK360.
When starting the scan, you will be prompted with steps and tips on how to use the system for the best results. The Iterative Closest Point algorithm (ICP) is always looking to minimise the difference between two point clouds, so data captured in each frame is constantly corrected and placed in the right position by aligning the existing data. With this approach, FIELD 360 gets you the best results in the fastest way possible. Since the setups are treated just like the TLS scans, you benefit from the full use of FIELD 360 functionalities – such as adding tags and measurements or cleaning up the point cloud.
The second workflow really differentiates us from all other apps on the market today because we can fill gaps in existing scans coming from Leica Geosystems laser scanners. For example, you may have scans collected with the RTC360 in FIELD 360, but of course it is very difficult and sometimes impossible to collect data in some locations. Perhaps you missed some data from obscured areas, like under a table or behind a parked car very close to a wall.
This is where FIELD 360 comes in with a solution. By integrating data from Apple device LiDAR sensors with the TLS scan data, whatever gaps you had in your point cloud – they’re gone. You can start capturing the 3D tag while visualising in real-time how the LiDAR points are closing the gaps in the point cloud. Because the terrestrial scan is used as a reference, the data coming from the LIDAR sensor is instantly aligned to the existing point cloud.
What use case applications do you envision especially for new Cyclone FIELD 360 users?
Some customers don’t need all the capabilities of a TLS, or such a scanner might be too expensive for them. We thought, if they already have an Apple device with a LiDAR sensor, why not use it?
While there are many potential applications for new users, one existing and important one we thought of during development is law enforcement. For example, small police departments often don’t have the budget to buy a TLS, but data from scans is crucial for forensics and evidence collection. In the case of a car crash, police can go instantly to the scene and scan quickly, providing everything they need for their investigations later and clearing the scene faster.
With FIELD 360, this now becomes an affordable possibility using the LiDAR sensors in their Apple devices. Since many police forces already use iOS devices for security reasons, the integration is easy, and they will receive a range of benefits from the addition of one app.
This is just one example - there are still many people using traditional methods, like measuring from pictures or using the DISTO, that would benefit, such as in architecture and real estate. For example, FIELD 360’s QuickPlan can be used to create and complete simple floorplans directly in the field. I encourage people to download and explore the app and look forward to hearing the ways our creative customers will use this new capability to accomplish amazing things.
Senior Product Engineer, Terrestrial Laser Scanning
Reality Capture Division