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Dr Mike J Smith
Kingston University

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Point Cloud Roundup

Tue, 10 Jul 2012

Point clouds are becoming big news - as LiDAR systems move out of the niche and in to the mainstream, software processing shifts from high cost bespoke to lower cost and open source. And skills in these areas become desirable - at Kingston we run a High Definition Surveying module based in-part around our Leica terrestrial laser scanner where students learn about data acquisition and data modelling. Traditional areas have been those dealing with detailed infrastructure such as internal facilities modelling and management and highways/railways, but we have seen use in other areas have costs have dropped including crime scene/traffic accident and pylon monitoring. It always surprises me the increasing number of applications and this is well demonstrated through Radiohead's House of Card video (including Google code, downloads and use of Processing.

Anyway, back to the point of the post which is the increasing proliferation of tools and there are a few points worth looking at:

-there is an international data exchange format ASTM E807 and an open source library
-PDAL for the reading, writing, and translating point cloud data
-PCL is for pointcloud processing including "filtering, feature estimation, surface reconstruction, registration, model fitting and segmentation, as well as higher level tools for performing mapping and object recognition."
-point-cloud-tools comes out of an academic research project and is focused on processing massive pointclouds (initially of fluvial environments) to calculate per-cell summary statistics -LASTools for point cloud converting, filtering, viewing, gridding, and compressing

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