Andy Fontana is the Leica Geosystems technical specialist for the BLK360 compact laser scanner, known for his helpful how-to videos and insights on the BLK360 on YouTube. We asked Andy about using the BLK360 with the Leica Cyclone FIELD 360 app, how it works, and what some of his favorite features are.
What’s your experience with the Cyclone FIELD 360 app been like? How much have you used it, and for which kinds of projects?
My experience with FIELD 360 is pretty smooth. I’ve used it on a couple different projects and it will definitely be my point cloud registration app of choice going forward. I’ve only done a few interior projects and one test outdoors, and it’s impressive.
What are the top new features that the app provides to longtime BLK360 users?
Cyclone FIELD 360 has a handful of great new features that will help all kinds of users, but here are my favorite ones:
View the scan time before starting a scan. This is something that could be very helpful when planning out your project. Knowing how long a particular scan is going to take helps you get an idea of how long a project is going to take and how many scans you are able to take in a certain amount of time. It also helps with longer scans if you’d like to walk away from the scanner and return just as it’s finishing up.
Turning off imagery completely. I know a lot of guys who are doing very simple as-built drawings of houses. With a 2D as-built drawing, you need very minimal data, and you often don’t need the 360 imagery to view or colorize the point cloud. If you turn off the imagery and take low density scans, each scan will only take 40 seconds! This means you can really rip through scanning a house ridiculously fast! You’ll spend a lot less time on site, importing will take a fraction of the time, and you can get projects done much faster.
Viewing the 3D point cloud. I’m particularly excited about being able to view the 3D point cloud on the iPad. Everything on the iPad so far has been either the 360° imagery or the birds-eye view of the scan. I think this is something that a lot of people expected from the very beginning, but no app could offer. You needed to bring your data over to the computer before you could see the magic. Viewing your fully registered point cloud on-site with the iPad can help people see exactly where there are shadows in their data and where they need to take another scan. Also, it’ll really help to explain what laser scanning is, especially when you are scanning in a public area and everyone comes up to ask what the BLK360 is. With this app, you’ll be able to show them exactly what the BLK360 is and what it can do.
Registering scans on-site. The reality of scanning is that it’s a lot of time waiting for the scanner to scan. With FIELD 360, you can register your scans together as they are taken. This makes the time on site much more productive; instead of spending time in the office registering your scans together, you’re doing that work between each scan while you are out in the field. Then, once you are done scanning in the field, you are also done registering your project together, leaving very little office work, if any.
How does the FIELD 360 app effect the workflow of Cyclone and REGISTER 360 users?
If you already use REGISTER 360, the FIELD 360 app is an option that you can use to cut down on the time spent putting together your scans in the office. If you register all your scans with FIELD 360, the entire project will go directly into REGISTER 360 exactly as it is on the iPad. REGISTER 360 offers a couple of tools that let you tighten up your registration and clean up your point cloud before sending it off to CAD or whatever other program you are using.
How easy is the app to install and learn?
The app is easy to install, you can just download it from the App Store and log in with your Cyclone Cloud info. If you don’t already have a Cyclone Cloud account, you’ll need to create one and activate your REGISTER 360 license online.
As for the app itself, would say it’s very straightforward and easy to learn. It only took me a few seconds to figure out how to scan and register scans together. In my opinion, everything in the app is very intuitive.
What kinds of users will find the app most useful?
I would say that this app will make the learning curve much easier for new users. The ability to view the scan data in the field lets people learn what the scanner captures and how much overlapping data is needed between scans for registration. I could also see this being used by power users who want to cut out the processing time in the office and get more jobs done faster.
Which kinds of scan situations do you think the app is best suited for, or that you’d personally use it for?
I would personally use the FIELD 360 app for standard 20-to-30 scan jobs for as-builts or modeling. I think that this app could become a big hit, especially with the new RCP export option with REGISTER 360. Now I can register my scans together on my iPad, import this cloud to REGISTER 360, and export it straight out as an RCP file for AutoCAD or Revit.
Which of these new features do you think BLK360 users are going to find most helpful or important?
I think BLK users are really going to appreciate viewing the cloud in 3D on-site. It is extremely important to make sure that you’ve properly captured everything and that your data looks good before leaving the site. Returning to a site later is not always possible and viewing the entire project in 3D on the iPad will allow people to be sure they won’t need to. Registering the cloud on-site is also extremely helpful in cutting down overall project time and is something that I think will make a lot of people more productive.