Laser Scanning

I’ve been investigating laser-scanning technology over the last few weeks. A representative from Faro came by the office with his machine. He scanned the interior of the office. It took about 20 minutes.
The laser scanning operation is in itself unremarkable. Watching the bread-box size machine on top of its tripod, there is not much to get excited about. What it’s actually doing is collecting millions of laser distancing points. I believe the technology is LIDAR, or using light as a radar. At the same time the machine is collecting laser point data, it’s taking dozens of photographs. The result of these LIDAR points and photographs can be seen in Faro’s Scene software, and other related applications. Opening up a scan file in Scene, one sees a fishbowl-like image of the scanned area. The collection of 360-degrees worth of photos means one can pan and zoom in Scene much like one can pan and zoom in Google Maps, only with a greater degree of smoothness and detail.
The Faro rep did two scans in my office, and these could be knit together to produce one comprehensive scan. The two scan points become the locations for panning and zooming within the software.
The photographs and the laser scan points are aligned. Tools in Scene let one measure between points by clicking on places within the photograph. With this information alone, one could conceivably use Faro as a proxy for reality when creating an existing conditions model. The process would be tedious, but no more tedious than taking measurements off a sheet of paper after having measured a building with a pencil and notepad. The real brilliance of the software comes later, which I will describe in the next post: Using laser scans directly in Revit, and using software to automate the process of getting laser scan data into Revit.

Follow Mike Sealander, Maine Licensed Architect:


Principal at Sealander Architects, Ellsworth Maine. Revit guru. Married with 3 children. Avid gardener. Lived in San Francisco for nine years. Master in Architecture from Columbia University Bachelor of arts in religious studies, Wesleyan University. Graduated Staples High School, Westport CT. Hope to spend some time in Hokkaido before all is said and done.