Nov
26
2014

Q&A with Senior Technical Product Manager Oliver Bürkler – FARO SCENE Software

A scanner is not much use on its own – with SCENE software from FARO, all the scan data acquired on the set can be processed and – with the hosting service – securely shared worldwide.

FARO is a manufacturer of portable 3D measurement technology, and has developed the SCENE software package specifically for the FARO Focus3D laser scanner. However the SCENE software is not restricted to the laser scanners from FARO, but can also be combined with other makes of laser scanner.

Using this software, the user can process the photo-realistic scan data from the laser scanner with the aid of automatic scan registration and positioning methods, and then carry out measurements and 3D visualisations and export point clouds. New tools take care of automatic scan positioning without having to rely on artificial targets such as checkerboard markers or spheres. The range of functions of the software can be extended at will with plug-ins from the FARO 3D App Center, for example for creating a video, for volume calculations and much more. At the same time, FARO has published the new version 1.6 of the scan data hosting service, SCENE WebShare Cloud: This enables scan projects to be viewed, shared and published online. And all with the highest security standard.

SCENE is compatible with Windows from version 7, 64-bit, in addition to which at least a 512 MB graphics card with OpenGL-2.0-interface is required for optimum performance. For stereoscopic display, FARO recommends an Nvidia Quadro card. SCENE uses the manufacturer-independent, binary data exchange format ASTM E57, and the tool also supports all popular formats.

faro_scene_01

 

How many laser scanners should be used for a high-quality scan model of which magnitude?

Oliver Bürkler: The crucial factor is always the degree of detail required for a scan. The more accurate a scan is to be, and the higher the resolution it is to have, the longer the scanner takes to record the data. We are talking about a maximum of 15 minutes for a very detailed scan outdoors, within a surrounding radius of 330 metres. The larger and more complex the object to be scanned – for example a large, angular building – the more scans will have to be carried out in order to record all the surfaces. It can thus be an advantage in terms of time to employ several devices in parallel, but it is not absolutely necessary. As far as SCENE is concerned, the software can in principle handle projects of unlimited size, and map them with no restrictions.

 

How does the scanner store the data?

Oliver Bürkler: The scanner stores the scan data automatically on a normal SD card. If a computer is equipped with SCENE software, data transfer is started as soon as the SD card is inserted, following a brief request for confirmation.

 

There are two methods available for automatic scan positioning without markers: “Top View”-based registration and “Cloud-to-Cloud” registration. Which of these is suitable for which situation?

Oliver Bürkler: “Cloud-to-Cloud” registration uses all the scan data for registration. In order to be able to operate reliably, this type of registration needs in principle some initial information about the rough position and alignment of the scan. When outdoors, SCENE uses the GPS information saved by the scanner for each scan. Without this information, for example when indoors, the user has to align the scans roughly by hand in advance. In contrast to “Top-View”-based registration, this method requires a little more time but is potentially more accurate.

Prior information about location and orientation are not necessary for “Top-View”-based registration. This method is particularly suitable when there are enough vertical structures – such as walls, for example – available in the scan data.

However, in the case of targetless methods the user has to ensure greater overlapping between the individual scanning locations. So you need more scan positions but you save yourself the effort associated with transporting, fitting and managing the targets.

 

In which application situations is the use of targets as essential as ever?

Oliver Bürkler: SCENE still supports spheres and checkerboards as targets. The user will normally still want to use targets if he/she wants to georeference the scans, for example, with tachymeter data. The type of most suitable targets depends on the individual case.

 

In which formats can data such as image files, CAD drawings or cards be integrated into the scan data?

Oliver Bürkler: The user can import files in .tiff, Geotiff, .jpg or .png formats into SCENE. The software then displays the file on a horizontal plane in 3D space. In the case of a Geotiff file, the position and scaling are extracted automatically from the metadata. With the other file formats, the user has to enter the position and the scale of the image, for example by means of a dialog box.

 

Does stereo 3D viewing work in real time in every situation?

Oliver Bürkler: The output of a stereoscopic 3D view can be easily defined in the 3D settings of SCENE. A stereoscopic view is always possible without any time delay then.

 

Is SCENE WebShare Cloud permanently integrated into the software or an optional feature?

Oliver Bürkler: It is an optional service from FARO, but from the technology perspective it is fully integrated in SCENE. Advantages of the Cloud service include the easy viewing of scan data in standard web browsers, as well as the provision of data in any size. Users do not need any special software for it. The scans are also displayed as panoramic images, so no knowledge of 3D programs is required. That makes it particularly easy in the case of complex projects to provide access to the data to everyone involved – all without any time delay. Even changes to the project become visible in real time. There is the choice of making the data public or of restricting access by means of username and password.

 

Is web-based collaboration on the model also possible?

Oliver Bürkler: Yes, that is also possible. Although we recommend that a web conference system such as GotoMeeting or WebEx be used for that purpose when several people are working at the same time. It makes cooperation more effective.

 

You also offer a free version of SCENE, called Scenect. For which target group is it intended?

Oliver Bürkler: Our intention with Scenect is to appeal to people who are not typical professional 3D scanner users, and to offer them an easy way into 3D scanning. All that is needed are inexpensive sensors such as the Asus Xtion or Microsoft Kinect. With Scenect, however, only one sensor can be used at a time.

 

Are there any imminent plans for a Mac or Linux version von SCENE?

Oliver Bürkler: There will be no versions of the software for other operating systems in the immediate future. On the other hand, SCENE WebShare Cloud is entirely independent of the operating system.

 

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