Bentley Seeks to Extend Point Cloud Data through Infrastructure Lifecycle16 Nov, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff
With its acquisition of Pointools, the infrastructure software provider prepares to leverage a new fundamental data type across the ProjectWise and AssetWise platforms.
During its Be Inspired: Thought Leadership in Infrastructure event held in Amsterdam last week, Bentley Systems announced the acquisition of Pointools, a developer of hardware-neutral point cloud software. The purchase comes two years after the two companies signed a technology agreement allowing Bentley to embed Pointools' Vortex API engine in MicroStation. With the new acquisition, Bentley plans to assimilate point cloud processing and data management throughout its ProjectWise and AssetWise platforms.
As scanning hardware prices fall, point cloud capture is becoming ever more affordable, but the data is often limited to temporary, task-specific purposes because the outsize files defy storage and querying. "The scale of the files has meant they're not as useful as they could be throughout the project," CEO Greg Bentley explained during his Be Inspired keynote address.
With those challenges out of the way, point clouds, as a fundamental data type, can serve as "as-operated" 3D models for infrastructure assets. "Point clouds no longer by virtue of their size need be throwaways," Mr. Bentley continued. "We have the opportunity now to include point clouds in all of our workflows."
Bentley Senior Vice-President Bhupinder Singh explained, "A unique new ProjectWise capability will stream on-demand to Bentley applications only the subset of point cloud data being viewed or queried. This functionality is what has been needed to allow point clouds to fulfill their potential as an intrinsic, fundamental data type in information modeling workflows.
"Combined with the 'delta file transfer' functionality already in ProjectWise, Bentley will now more comprehensively enable collaborative work sharing," Singh continued. "A new ProjectWise point cloud management and streaming service will be introduced before the end of the year."
The Pointools POD file format retains information pertaining to the origin of the point cloud data including scanner type, original scan file name, scan date, scan location, and scan keywords. This information can be indexed and searched to more quickly locate models when managed, referenced, and maintained in Bentley's ProjectWise collaboration and work-sharing platform.
Bentley's commitment to point clouds as a fundamental data type is also evident in the point cloud processing and management capabilities featured in the upcoming release of Bentley Descartes V8i (SELECTseries 3). These capabilities are intended to speed point cloud workflows and reduce costs. The point cloud workflows that are possible with the new release include visualization, classification editing, tiled export, and object extraction. The update of the image management software is scheduled for Q1 2012.