Reality Capture Services: Is It Worth It?

Many people in maintenance, real estate, or the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry wonder if reality capture services is worth the trouble and cost. Our answer is a resounding “YES,” and we’d like to tell you why.

Before we can dig into the questions of relative value and ROI, let’s make sure we are all on the same page about what reality capture services are.

Capturing Reality

Have you ever tried to make a 3D model of an existing structure? If so, you know that creating 3D models requires thousands of measurements. And, if those measurements aren’t completely accurate, the model can’t be accurate either. For AEC, an inaccurate digital model may be utterly useless.

Traditionally, gathering those measurements required a human (or a team of humans) to physically survey, measure, and record each data point by hand. There are many steps for this to be complete. In fact, it might take weeks to complete, and a single error could require massive re-works.

This is where reality capture services comes in. Using lasers (LiDAR to be precise) it is now possible to create a laser scan of a structure with down–to-the-millimeter accuracy. Then, after “capturing reality,” software can quickly render the data points (the point cloud) into a usable and highly accurate 3D model.

Alternatively, 3D models can be made by using photogrammetry techniques. As we explain on our blog, “Photogrammetry consists of taking pictures of space from different angles and distances to capture the tridimensional surface of objects. After capturing the data, those photos are imported into specialized photogrammetry software for further processing, resulting in a 3D model.”

And outdoors, there is excellent reality capture work being done with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly referred to as drones. Drone technology can take aerial photos of any area or environment from different angles and heights, and then be combined with others reality capture techniques to create a precise map or Point Cloud of any area more quickly and cost-effectively. That point cloud can be rendered as a 3D model.

Those 3D models can be used for many applications, from as-built BIM models to engineering schematics. They can be used for virtual site visits, for construction progress tracking, and more. 

Because they are LASER accurate (literally), they can provide incredibly detailed information about the structure. As Geo Week News puts it, “Reality capture gives you the best data available, helping you to make decisions based upon facts and not theory. This will improve the entire project from beginning to end.”

How much does Reality Capture Services cost?

As with many software and services, when it comes to reality capture services, the price can vary widely. Many things can impact the pricing, from the size of the area to be scanned to the fees charged by outside survey teams. Overall, the price can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on the scale and scope of the project.

The same variance in price is true if you wish to purchase your own reality capture software and 3D scanning equipment. According to LiDARNews, “ A robust, entry-level LiDAR system comes in around $23,000” but there is no true top-end price, and “LiDAR processing software can be upwards of $20,000, but luckily you could start with open-source software for free.” So owning your own system can cost between zero dollars and range to as high as your budget can take you.

When it comes to reality capture from drones, A whitepaper by Autodesk explains that “the cost of scanning a site has dramatically reduced. Where it once took $40,000 to do a one-time scan of a site from a professional service company or LiDAR-equipped plane, you can now own a commercial drone starting at $1,500 and start flying a site on-demand.”

Reality Capture ROI

There is remarkable evidence to suggest that reality capture services can provide a massive return on investment. 

Consider that the costs of creating a similar building plan or model used to include the time, labor, and reworks that were associated with gathering the data and with rendering the models. A whitepaper by Autodesk quotes a reality capture user as saying “I estimate approximately a 50% reduction in cost by using 3D laser scanning vs. trying to capture all the same information with a traditional 2D surveyor. The biggest savings was the time savings.”

Laser scanners have the capacity to generate substantial returns. describes an architecture firm that “invested in a suite of reality capture technology and was able to reduce rework, collect and use accurate as-built models of typically inaccessible spaces, increase the quality of collaboration between project teams, improve the budgeting process and realize a 325 percent return on investment (ROI).”

If the numbers quoted above are accurate, then that means massive cost savings, and incredible ROI. I think it’s fair to say that reality capture is certainly worth it. 

And the value is even higher with a powerful point cloud visualization software like the JP Interactive Viewer. To not only be able to easily visualize and manage 3D models, point clouds, and 360 images, but to be able to share them across your team in a cloud-native viewer makes the reality capture capabilities of JP Global Digital the best software in town.

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Ivan Marten

Senior Partner Emeritus at Boston Consulting Group

Ivan Marten is a senior partner emeritus at Boston Consulting Group. He is also a member of JP Global Digital Advisory Board as from April 2019. He has supported various companies in the energy, Oil & Gas, power, and environment sectors on developing their strategic visions for over 30 years. Ivan holds a degree in economics and business administration, and a Ph.D. in business administration and economics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He was named one of the" Top 25 most influential consultants of the year by Consulting Magazine in 2003.

Javier San Juan

President of the Latin America Region at L’Oreal

Javier is the president of the Latin America region at L’Oreal. He is a member of JP Global Digital Advisory Board as from January 2019. He has over 27 years of experience with a world leading cosmetic company where he held various positions across Europe and the Americas. Javier holds a master’s degree in Law, a master’s degree in Economics from the University ICADE in Spain, and a Diplôme HEC from the Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Paris He is the co-founder of Gibraltar Corporation and is one of the advisory board members.

Elizabeth Coronado

Co-Founder and Head of Marketing

Elizabeth graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication. She has three years of experience supporting the management of internal and external communications. She holds a Digital Marketing Certificate from the University of Miami.

She works hand-in-hand with multiple departments including Quality Management System, Human Resources, and Marketing. She is currently involved in the process of raising funds.

Argenis Pelayo

Product Manager

Argenis has a bachelor's degree in Geophysical Engineering and an MBA. 

Argenis is experienced in the implementation of agile methodology, and project planning. He is knowledgeable in C++, MATLAB, and Python programming languages. He has almost two years of experience in his field.

King Yung

Data Processing Specialist

King is a mechanical maintenance engineer with an MBA. He has almost 15 years of experience in the oil & gas industry. In the last five years, he has specialized and certified in laser scanning. He is focused on industrial data processing in Panama, the Republic of Panama.

Eduardo Colmenares

Technical Sales

Eduardo is a mechanical engineer with an MBA. He has more than 10 years of experience in the construction and oil & gas industry. In the last five years, he has specialized and is certified in laser scanning. Eduardo has focused on leading industrial asset digitalization in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Valentin Malave

Project Leader

Valentin is a civil engineer with almost 20 years of experience as a project engineer. In the last two years, he has focused on leading industrial asset digitalization in Houston, TX. He has specialized and is certified in laser scanning.

Ana Gutierrez

Project Leader

Ana has 10 years of experience in the design and engineering area of telecommunications and networks, and digitalization. In the last four years, she has specialized and certified in laser scanning.

Customer and results-oriented. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in electrical, electronics, and communications engineering, a Master in Management, and a MBA.

Roberto Ocando Morales

Research & Development Leader

Roberto holds an associate degree in information technology and a law degree. He has an MBA and a specialization in strategic senior management.

He has been a scrum master focused on software and applications development. He has 24 years of experience in his field.

He was second place within the 100 Best Technology Projects Executed in Venezuela in 2006- according to IT Manager 100 Empresas High-Tech 2006

Marvelys Gonzalez

Head of Operations

Marvelys is a civil engineer with a master in project management and specialized in project design and hydraulic engineering. She also holds an MBA and a master in Big Data & Business Intelligence.

She has more than 17 years of experience in her field, and for the last three years, she has focused on industrial data processing. She is located in Mexico City (DF).

Hernan Ocando

IT Team Leader

Hernan has more than 20 years of experience in computer science, cryptography, IT, data center design, telecommunications, and digitalization.

He also has experience as an information security management system auditor, and data processing platform manager in both private and public corporations.

Hernan holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and a master in Computer Science, Finance, and Strategic Management.

Freddy Martinez

Partner and President

Freddy is a successful senior executive with more than 35 years of experience supporting global companies in their growth.

Freddy is a strong business development professional with an MBA from The Wharton School and an MSE focused on materials science & engineering from The Moore School, University of Pennsylvania. Both degrees were simultaneously earned from 1984 to 1986.

Daniel Coronado

COO & Co-Founder

Daniel is the chief operating officer and co-founder of JP Global Digital. He is responsible for leading the entire overall global operations of JP Global Digital and the implementation of organic growth.

Daniel has a law degree. He has over 25 years of experience founding and developing a series of corporations in the agricultural, mining, construction, and technology sector since 2015.

Ysaac Coronado

CEO and Co-Founder

Ysaac is the CEO and co-founder of JP Global Digital. He is responsible for the overall business performance of JP Global Digital and is highly committed to the development of high-quality 3D digital solutions and to obtain the highest level of client satisfaction and growth for the Oil & Gas, Large Industrial, and Maritime Sectors.

Ysaac has a law degree with a specialization in corporate law. Ysaac has over 25 years of experience founding and developing a series of corporations in the agricultural, mining, construction, and technology sector since 2015.