Jay Freeland, President and CEO of FARO Technologies Inc is one of the leading players in the 3D laser scanning industry. If you know anything about Jay, you know that he has been vocal about pushing the development of 3DLS technology so it can reach the widest professional community possible, a task he refers to as the “democratization” of 3D. Clearly, Jay and FARO have some big plans for the future.
I caught up with Jay following FARO’s 3D Documentation conference this year to discuss FARO’s future, why democratizing 3DLS tech is so important, and why making a more affordable scanner is so difficult. Jay also gave me a picture of what he imagines the future of 3D will look like, and just how far off we are from 3D finally breaking big.
Sean Higgins: During his keynote, Rob Pietsch [FARO’s VP of marketing for the Americas] said that this year’s conference wasn’t about the scanner so much as what you can do with it. Can you talk a little more about the things that FARO is working on to change what you can do with the scanner?
Jay Freeland: Numbers one and two are ease of use and price of entry. When you think about bringing technology to a set of users to adopt when that technology doesn’t exist in the space currently—those are the types of things that can help drive the penetration.
I think the third piece that goes along with that is customizing the solution for the different verticals, and maybe even specific applications depending on how unique they are to the customer. That drives the adoption as well.
For us, internally, we’re driving all three of those at the same time. Some of it is through our own R&D, of course, and there’s still a lot of work to be done on lowering the total cost of ownership, lowering the price of the scanner to the general population.
In many respects, we’re still in the early adopter phase of the cycle. When you look at the price point today versus where we think it needs to go in the longer term, our current pricing is still much higher than the normal threshold for a lot of surveyors, law enforcement, and construction, and those different groups.
A lot of what we do is going to be through mergers and acquisitions. So if you look at the acquisition of CAD Zone, that’s a good example, and a first step toward offering software that’s specific to an industry. There are other acquisitions like that. We can pick up application layers that can easily be attached to the scanner, and allow us to integrate 3D data into existing software.
The last way is via things like the app store. Oliver Bürkler talked about the app store and what we’re doing there. You’ll see users who have very specific applications—they’ll write the app, put it on the app store, and it will go to a really small sliver of the marketplace, but it will be available.
All of that goes back to driving the ease of use for the customer and lowering the entry point.
Sean: This ties into a common theme from the 3D Documentation conferences, which is the democratization of 3D scanning technology. Why is that so important to FARO?
Jay: Number one, it’s important to us because we believe this is the right way to solve the measurement problems that are out there. That means pure measurement in the traditional surveyor’s sense or the traditional construction sense, all the way through the imaging side of it, where we look at how people are establishing the imaging for games, or in the movie or television industries.
The ability to capture rapidly at that level of accuracy and with that level of density and detail is the next evolutionary step away from traditional cameras, tape measures, and total stations.
Number two, if you look at it from a business standpoint—when you’re thinking about surveyors, civil engineers, construction engineers, law enforcement personnel, law enforcement agencies, investigative agencies—there are easily a couple million customers who we could sell the technology to.
FARO as a company has sold to only 15,000 customers in total, and that accounts for the fact that the vast majority of our customers are on the metrology side, in the industrial world, where we’ve been for 30 years. So, we have barely scratched the surface. I mean, that is a massive market opportunity. If we solve that market problem correctly – from the technology standpoint, the ease of use standpoint, the price point – it becomes a viable option for all of those folks to make the transition from 2D into full 3D.
Sean: For anyone who wasn’t there at the conference, what would you say was the big takeaway? I noticed there wasn’t a big product or software announcement.
Jay: What I really want them to think about is the opportunity that’s out there to improve their own businesses, to make their own businesses more productive, more profitable. I want them to think about the opportunity to solve the current problems that people are solving today, plus a whole array of new problems that can’t be adequately solved. The scanner opens up a whole new world for people to do that. That’s takeaway number one.
Number two is that the scanner is already pretty darn easy to use, and pretty affordable, and they can rely on FARO to drive that to a point where it is entirely easy to use and entirely affordable for the population of targeted users.
Now, does that mean that the average Joe on the street is going to walk up and buy a laser scanner? I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that in the near term. When you think about consumer 3D printing and things like that, it’s a whole different marketplace. Somebody’s going to solve problem that through a smartphone, through normal camera technology. The image can be dimensionally proportionate, but it doesn’t need to be dimensionally accurate. It will be good enough for the average consumer, but that’s not FARO’s world.
Our world is the professionals who really need the technology because that’s how they make their living and that’s how they protect the safety of citizens, and how they ensure the efficiency and accuracy of civil works projects, or large construction projects, or buildings and other things of that nature. So takeaway number two is that we are, in fact, going to make the technology accessible to that broad user set.
Takeaway number three is that we are still in the early adopter phase. All the people who are at the conference are the pioneers from an end-user standpoint. So their feedback as to where we should be going – or where we can be going – is vital to helping solve the broader problem across that total market opportunity.
Even if we had a product release, I would say those are three takeaways and the product release would be the fourth one. This is a bigger mission to think about what we are trying to do in a very wide open market where we are barely scratching the surface. We’re just getting started.
Sean: In that case, I’d also like to ask where you’d like to see 3D laser scanning technology used where it isn’t already used. Do you have any ideas for future possibilities?
Jay: You know, I hear this question and of course I get excited, because I think it could be used everywhere. Like I said, everything’s got three dimensions, it’s just a matter of whether it’s worth capturing it or not.
Can I find an industry where they’re not using it yet? I’m hard-pressed to find one where there isn’t at least someone who’s trying it out. Again, we’re in that early adopter phase. For me the bigger question, or maybe the one that’s more appropriate at this time is: What do we need to do to drive better adoption across all of those different verticals?
Sean: How far do you think the industry is from producing hardware and software that makes this technology truly easy for those verticals to adopt?
Jay: I think we’re close. And when I say close it doesn’t mean that two months from now FARO is going to release something that hits the mark—we’re certainly not that close. When I think about the price point that really makes sense to the marketplace and the feedback we get from the customers we are already dealing with, the engineering task at hand is not insignificant.
It’s not like if you sold 10,000 scanners a year, you’d get enough volume leverage to help bring the price down. You couldn’t sell enough scanners the way the technology is currently configured. So it’s a real engineering challenge to be solved. Obviously nobody has solved it yet, and we feel like we’re in the position to do it.
If we’re sitting here in five years’ time and I’m still at the same price point, then something has gone really amiss.
Sean: At the end of an interview, I like to include a big question. What do you imagine for the future of 3D technology? Where do you think it will be in 50 years?
Jay: If I take the broadest possible picture and not think about what we’re trying to do—in 50 years, if the entire world doesn’t have the ability to do things in 3D at their fingertips, then something has gone awry. Will people still hang regular 2D photographs in their houses because of the image, the memory, etc? Of course. When you’re using smartphone or your camera, are you going to have the option to take the photograph in 3D or 2D? For sure. Will you be able to take that data and send it off to either a 3D printer at your house or a FedEx or a Kinko’s that has them? For sure.
Do I think that the professional world, you know, the industries that we talk about that we target, do I think that all of them will be using 3D technology in 50 years? Yes, I think they will be using it, if not 100% of the time, then it will be pretty darn close.
I think people will be able to walk around with something they are able to hold in their hand and get the same image clarity and accuracy, and perhaps maybe not the same range, but good enough for a lot of the projects. I have no doubt the technology will migrate there.
Do I think that we’ll be able to scan data, immediately upload it through the cloud, back to their offices and already have all the data rendered and all the visualizations done before they even get back? No question in my mind. That’s where I see it headed.
I am one of those true believers that it’s never a matter of if it can be done. Yes, there are laws of physics and things like that, but people have challenged the laws of physics pretty effectively. It’s not a matter of if it can be done, it’s just a matter of when. If you give a 50-year time window like that, there’s not a doubt in my mind that all of that, and probably well beyond that is going to happen.
South Carolina ETV and the University of South Florida’s Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies are working collaboratively with the Ninety Six National Historic site to produce a public documentary highlighting the technology and the story of the Kosciusko tunnel located at the park.
This project is a partnership between the mentioned entities and throws light on a lesser known part of the Revolutionary War History. The Kosciuzsko (pronounced KOS CHoos’CO) tunnel which is located leading up to Star Fort, is a tunnel that was dug by patriots in an effort to dislodge the British from their stronghold at Ninety Six.
The Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies was contracted to map the tunnel and surrounding area, whereby they used one our very own, the FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner to get the job done! The finished product will be used to find the best way to preserve the tunnel AND at the same time make it accessible through 3D mapping and imaging for preservation and educational purposes. ETV Upstate is working with AIST and the Ninety Six National Historic Site to help with the educational part of this project.
The overall project includes a thirty minute program, a short documentation video of the Tunnel laser mapping process, and other products derived from video content collected in support of the full program.
Located in Dresden, Germany, kubit has been developing field-proven software products to enable and simplify the use of real world objects in CAD applications since 1999. Initially launched to link total stations directly to AutoCAD, today kubit is the industry leader in providing tools to integrate 3D laser scan data with CAD environments such as Autodesk Revit and AutoCAD. kubit’s software is hardware independent, giving customers the flexibility to utilize any hardware offering, thus ensuring maximum productivity.
“The acquisition of kubit is an exciting step in FARO’s strategy to develop integrated, disruptive 3D documentation product offerings for the Architecture, Engineering and Construction market,” stated Jay Freeland, FARO’s President and CEO. “By adding kubit’s products to our portfolio, customers now have significantly enhanced software options to serve a vast array of point cloud modeling, analysis needs, and measurement capabilities with very high connectivity to the Autodesk suite of products.”
When an accident occurs a reliable rapid documentation is essential for forensic purposes.
Police forces and crime scene investigators alike often turn to FARO’s Focus3D Laser Scanner to ensure the capture and recording of the entire scene in 3D. However the capturing of details in narrow or not easily accessible areas where scanning with a tripod can be difficult.
Providing the highest efficiency in its field coupled with the added time saving, due to both the mobility of the scanner and its intuitive acquisition of gathered data the FARO Freestyle3D really is a perfect accompaniment to our FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner.
Not only can police officers and investigators rapidly capture any event scene in great detail, allowing for delay minimization, the FARO Freestyle3D scan data can be easily transferred to a computer for further processing and the merging with other point clouds to deliver an absolute 3D .
Set ot take place on the 24th-25th of February at the Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge, Uk the AVEVA World UK User Meeting is open to the entire AVEVA UK user community, from end users and discipline leads to division managers. This event will bring together a wealth of knowledge from the UK’s Oil & Gas, Power, Marine and Plant industry sectors alongside product expertise from both AVEVA and our customer base.
The programme will specifically focus on how the use of digital information throughout the asset life cycle, from inception to operation, can assist in overcoming the challenges of Integrated Project Execution for EPCs and Operations Integrity Management for Owner Operators.Thus providing us with a perfect platform to showcase our cutting-edge product range including;FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner FARO Scene Software and WebShare Cloud.
It is no secret that where large-scale major investment is concerned in the current economic climate, infrastructure is a serious front-runner. As one component of a multi-pronged assault on rectifying the UK’s extensive debt crisis, Cameron’s government has pledged billions to the preservation and vast improvement of the country’s arterial infrastructure systems in the hope of stimulating a kick-start for the country’s long-term economic growth. With high-profile projects such as HS2 and Crossrail at the vanguard of the £36billion major infrastructure investment plan, the subject of national infrastructure has become one of 2014’s hot topics. Opti-cal caught up with Ted Harland of Tri-tech Site Engineering and Land Surveys in a bid to get the inside scoop on one of this year’s largest projects; the high profile £300million upgrade of the A1 between Barton and Leeming, that upon completion will see journey times in the area cut by as much as twenty percent.
Tri-tech themselves are a Yorkshire-based surveying and site engineering company, who since 2005 have gained a solid reputation in supporting and facilitating project success for both public and private sector clients
“The project is essentially a £300m upgrade of the existing A1 dual carriageway to 3 Lane Motorway”, explains Harland, MD of Tri-tech, “upon completion, the project will also provide a number of local access roads to serve the local community, and significantly improve safety in the area [which at present lacks the local access roads necessary to accommodate the area’s numerous agricultural vehicles.]”
Falling beneath the broad umbrella of major infrastructure projects for 2014/15, the A upgrade sets the tone for contemporary project process in its use of 3D Laser Scanning Technology, as well as the firm insight into futureproofing the venture’s work through BIM (Building Information Modelling) workflows. “There has been a big push nationwide to start to deliver projects through BIM”, says Ted; “This in turn with the recent development of Scanners, PC Software, and PC Hardware has meant that now more than ever 3D laser Scanning has become a viable option for data collection for this kind of project.” “We have used Opti-cal for number of years now for the supply and service of all our equipment …Their support and service is second to none”
“We were asked by the Morgan-Sindall Carillion Joint Venture (MSCJV) project team to survey a number of existing bridges for the structural design team to process”, he explains, “some of the existing bridges are to be kept, as well as a number modified to suit a new 3 lane Motorway. After having various discussions with the design team about their specific requirements, and whether they could handle such large amounts of scan data, Tri-tech choose the FARO Focus3D X330 model for the job largely because it is the ability to scan at a far.
” Since its arrival on the market last year, the FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner from global manufacturing powerhouse FARO has evolved in tandem with the changing requirements of the survey teams using it. In November last year, the original S120 model was replaced by the first of the X series units – the X330 – which boasted considerable range whilst maintaining the compact 5kg housing that has gained this particular brand of scanner well deserved industry-wide recognition. “In the past we have used the Focus3D S120 to scan a number of buildings for a client”, he says, “The results were excellent, however on this project we knew we required the additional range of the X330 to confidently scan the structures from both sides of the carriageway and get good results. Because we only have access to the side of the motorway sometimes the distances needed to be scanned would have been right at the limit of the S120, which is why we went for X330. In terms of the hire itself, we have used Opti-cal for number of years now and so it was natural progression for them to supply the scanner and all accessories. Their support and service is second to none.”
Speaking about the data captured at the site, Peter Robinson of AECOM’s specialist design team said, “The use of the X330 FARO scanner by Ted Harland of Tri-tech has provided the A1 Dishforth to Barton structures design team with invaluable information. The [sheer] level of detail obtained from the surveys has left a number of the design team speechless, and has allowed [the highly] accurate modelling of existing structures.” He continues; “thanks to the coordinated point cloud obtained from the surveys conducted, we discovered that the original surveys carried out [at the site] were in fact inaccurate, which could easily have led to costly issues on site.”
Here, Robinson highlights the very issue that awards Laser scanning its rightful place at the heart of much of the industry’s recent lean towards Level 2 maturity BIM workflows; that the data you get out of a model will only ever be as good as the data you put in. And where Tri-tech is concerned, no expense has been spared in ensuring total accuracy for MSCJV and the holistic success of their project. “There was quite a lot of prep work prior to the scanner arriving on site,” Ted continues, “control had to be established at each structure using GPS and then tightened up using a total station; all stations were then digitally levelled to tie them into the site network. The beauty about scanning and scan data is that you capture everything in one visit – which at the end of the day saves the project both time and money.”
“We managed to scan all the structures in 4 days with a total of over 40 scans taken”, says Harland. “The processing was then done the following week using the Faro Scene, and the data exported out of FARO Scene Software in a format ready to be imported into Autodesk Revit/Autocad. We know this data is of an exceptionally high quality, and can now be used to design and model all new additions or changes to the motorway bridges – it also provides a real snap shot of what is there now as a record forever, in true 3D.”
With work commencing in March this year, the venture is by no means a small undertaking; “The project is due to be completed in mid-2017,” says Ted, “and I am confident that should there be any further survey work of bridges or structures, laser scanning will certainly be a first choice – not only by the designers but by the site team too.”
An essential part of modern 3D Documentation is, of course, Mobile Mapping. A mobile mapping system is the integration of remote sensors and time synchronised navigation. It is an extremely powerful tool for large scale 3D information collection e.g. road mapping or 3D city models.
With mobile mapping systems costing up to £1,000,000, a FARO Focus Laser scanner can be easily converted into a mobile mapping system with minimal investment. saving you time and money.
‘DIY’ Mobile Mapping
‘DIY’ Mobile Mapping can add a huge amount of extra value to the FARO Focus 3D. This enables the user to gather 3D data in a large scale and to work very efficiently in an outdoor environment. In addition, the FARO Focus is not attached to the mobile mapping system permanently and so it can still be easily used as a regular laser scanner at any time.
TO READ THE FULL WHITE PAPER: Click here
FARO offers you the unique opportunity to win fascinating prizes, by entering its chritmas prize draw. All you have to do is book a free product demonstration for any of our coordinate measuring machines or 3D imaging devices, choose your preferred Christmas gift from the wish list and you will be entered into the prize draw!
The best way to truly understand the power of FARO’s 3D metrology and 3D documentation with FARO Laser Scanner, FARO Laser Tracker or FARO Measuring Arm is to see them for yourself, at your premises. We would be happy to come out to your site and demonstrate our products on your parts. This free, customised product demonstration includes a consultation on how to improve your current processes and allows you to witness firsthand what FARO can do for you!
Our prizes include an Apple Ipad mini, Samsung 40″ LED Flatscreen TV, Smoothie Maker, Fujifilm FP S9400 Digicam and a Nespresso Coffee Machine
FARO is set to participate at the GeoData Event in Glasgow where you will be able to see first-hand how its portable CMMs and LaserScanners for 3D documentation solutions can benefit your operation. These exhibition style events include live demos of the products and provide an opportunity to talk to members of the team about your specific requirements. Technology from FARO permits high-precision 3D measurement, imaging and comparison of parts and compound structures within production and quality assurance processes. The devices are used for inspecting components and assemblies, production planning, large part inspection or structures in 3D, and more…. To find out how to register for the GeoData Event click here and head up to Glasgow on the 4th of November where we will be featuring our FARO LaserScanner Focus3D X Series, or visit our website and book your demo today.
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.