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.

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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.

 

Oct
28
2014

10 Benefits of Using Laser Scanning in Forensics

The use of laser scanning in the accident reconstruction and law enforcement communities is constantly gaining more and more respect. With hardware and software having improved greatly over the past few years, capturing great detail in a quick and simple manner has been made extremely easy.

Here are 10, of many, reasons why utilizing laser scanners for forensic applications is the right choice.

1. Ease of use: The operation of a laser scanner has become much easier with the inclusion of a simpler interface, making operating the scanner less like a complicated piece of survey equipment.

[Read more …]

Aug
04
2014

FARO Announces CAD Zone Acquisition!

FARO is the world’s most trusted source for 3D measurement, imaging and realisation technology and we are committed to furthering our offering in the law enforcement market.

In order to meet the needs of this market and provide a compelling integrated 3D documentation solution, FARO has acquired CAD Zone, Inc., a leading software provider in the law enforcement, accident and crime scene reconstruction market.

CAD Zone

FARO laser scanning technology will be integrated with CAD Zone’s point cloud software application, in order to provide turnkey solutions for forensic applications and create the right 3D documentation solution.

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Jul
04
2014

BBC interview: The FARO Focus 3D in Forensics

Laser Scanners are being integrated into Police Forces throughout the world, with London Metropolitan Police being the latest to use FARO Laser Scanning technology to investigate traffic incidents.

Meet the new FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D X 330

The Laser Scanner allows for the documentation of crime scenes, through an augmented reality model and this means that jurors can be better informed of evidence and more information may be presented during a trial.

FARO Focus 3D specialist David Southam took time to speak with the BBC and explained how the equipment actually works.

To see the BBC video interview click here!

 

Apr
04
2014

Law Enforcement goes 3D laser scanning at 3D Documentation Conference

This mornings highlight: 3D Documentation and laser scanning in Law Enforcement.

David Dustin, a US forensic expert from Dustin production presented this morning in the Andechs Abbey the usage of 3D laser scanning for many kinds of law enforcement applications. Amazing presentation!

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Mar
31
2014

10 Reasons to use laser scanning for forensics


Laser scanning is rapidly gaining acceptance and becoming more and more commonplace in the law enforcement and accident reconstruction communities. Over the past few years, hardware and software have improved significantly creating a simpler, overall system to capture immense detail in a short period of time.

These are 10, of the many, reasons to consider laser scanners for a forensic application:

1) Easy to use: Many manufacturers are moving toward a simpler interface making operation of the scanner more like a digital camera than a complicated survey instrument.

2) Portability: Laser scanners are smaller in size today than ever before making them easier to deploy to a crime/accident scene and useable by just about anyone.

3) Safety: Data can be collected from a distance, with some scanners collected measurements over 300 meters away. This allows the operator to scan a scene out of harms way. In addition, laser scanners can collect up to 1,000,000 points per second with average scan times of several minutes. Less time on a scene means less time for potential danger to the individuals at the scene. Class I lasers are also being used in laser scanners creating a truly eye-safe environment during the scan.

4) Speed and Efficiency: Complete color scans can be captured in as little as several minutes creating a virtual scene with high accuracy and detail that can be revisited over and over without physically traveling to the site. In contrast to traditional methods of surveying/documenting a scene, laser scanning can be much faster and allow multiple investigators to have eyes on the virtual scene.

5) Produce a variety of deliverables: Once the scene has been laser scanned, various types of final products can be extracted or produced from the data. For example, anything from a traditional 2D drawing to a detailed 3D animation can be created from the scan data.

6) Peer pressure: With more and more agencies utilizing laser scanners for their scene documentation, the result is more widely accepted. As well as growth in expectations that future scenes will be documented in 3D.

7) Cost Effective: Laser scanners are becoming more and comparable in price to total stations which are traditionally used for documenting traffic accidents.

8) Specialized Measurement Tools: Software for forensic analysis from 3D data also now includes special tools for measuring blood spatter and bullet trajectory, witness/suspect height, etc.

9) Easy to share: More software tools are available to view and document the scan data without the requirement of installing software or purchasing additional licenses.

10) Archive the scene: Once the scene has been laser scanned it has been essentially frozen in time, preserved for future virtual visits by anyone who may wish to investigate the scene. This allows for measurements to be taken that may not have necessarily been thought to be important at the time of capture as well.

Blog post by Alex Demogines, Account Manager Laser Scanner, FARO Technologies

Jan
07
2014

Baselining accident reconstruction for court evidence

Baselining Forensic Evidence with the FARO Laser Scanner While new technologies are used to entertain viewers of TV crime series, the real Crime Scene Investigators are hard at work, pushing the boundaries of forensic science, documenting cases, and baselining real-world events.

This is the job of Michal Frydrýn and his colleagues at the Department of Forensic Experts in Transportation (DFET) at the Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague. Serving the country’s police departments or its courts, the team uses their expertise to analyse road traffic accidents. They visit the site, document the scene and submit a forensic report.

“The requirement for these reports drives our own baseline research, explained Michal. Recently, we examined the passive safety of cars specifically in relation to the protection of child pedestrians. It is a long term project that actually took us three years: we created a specialized forensic laboratory on university premises, fitted it out with appropriate equipment, including traditional measuring tools and suitable anthropomorphic test devices (crash test dummies) and then ran a programme of testing and evaluation.”

Michal explained that for the final year of the project, the DFET employed a FARO Laser Scanner Focus 3D: “The arrival of the FARO scanner means we won a substantial improvement in our baseline data and 3D documentation.”

Pushing the boundaries of forensic science, documenting cases, and baselining real-world events with the FARO Focus 3DWithin the carefully controlled laboratory environment, we accelerated a Skoda car to speeds of 10, 20 and 30kph and allowed it to strike a P6 crash test dummy. The dummy was designed to impact the car in the manner of a child and to record the effects on a child’s body. With the Focus 3D, we were able to record the whole scene and create highly detailed documentation of the deformation of the car – especially the bonnet. Using the FARO, we secured more information on the position of objects at the crash site, and more detail on the deformation of the vehicle, than was possible with the laser scanning equipment we had used previously. This increase in detail has served to add new depth to our documentation.”

As a result, this fundamental baseline data allows DETF to examine the bonnets of similar vehicles after real accidents and to determine the speed the vehicle was travelling at the time of collision with the child. Michal re-enforces this final point: ”At the accident site itself, the Focus 3D allows us to quickly document the scene with generous 3D detail to aid in the analysis, enabling our delivery of reliable, timely evidence to the courts”.

More about forensics and accident reconstruction

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