5 Frequently Asked Questions About Point Clouds Answered

Point clouds play a crucial role in modern engineering and business operations in general. These models provide an accurate and intricate 3D model of a structure, space, or object. In turn, that model supports informed and effective decision-making for businesses across many wide-ranging use cases.

What is a point cloud? The general concept is relatively simple. 3D laser scanners commonly map points of a given area or thing, generating a point cloud dataset.

Each individual point has a set of unique Cartesian coordinates. When visualizing the 3D point cloud, the data creates a richly detailed model.

There are plenty of other common questions asked about point clouds, too. So many, in fact, that we’ve put together this list of five frequently asked questions about point clouds, along with their answers.

1. What is the Purpose of a Point Cloud?

The overarching purpose of creating a point cloud is to build an accurate, detail-rich model. That can mean everything from a cross-section of a part for quality inspection to a complete 3D model of a facility. Laser scanning captures rich data, which can display minute changes and variations when envisioned with point cloud processing software.

It may sound a little strange, but the versatility of these data sets can make it difficult to define all of the potential use cases for them. A geospatial data specialist will use a model in a much different way than would an architect or facilities maintenance manager, for example. 

The richness and reliability of these clouds connect all possible use cases, despite their differences. Every professional who utilizes one in their work can count on a detailed and accurate model.

In terms of construction, operations, and facilities management, point clouds empower staff in a variety of ways. These models support everything from straightforward virtual inspections to visualization of changes and modifications to a building or area of a facility.

2. How are Point Clouds Generated?

Accurate data capture is the first step to generating a cloud. Generally, lasers (specifically LiDAR — laser imaging, detection, and ranging) are the primary tool used to scan an area or object to generate data points. It’s also possible to use photogrammetry, deriving measurements and other key information from photographs and supporting data.

In many cases, several Lidar scans are needed to completely capture the necessary data for a large area, complex object, or structure. That’s because the data capture ability of the scanner is limited to its point of view when in use.

Ensuring accuracy and consistency is crucial in these efforts. Professionals will use artificial targets and similar measures to ensure scans of the same object or area taken from different locations will align.
Point cloud software plays a vital role in generating the point cloud model. These programs transform the data set gathered into a visual model. Leading point cloud software also allows users to centralize clouds and other models, like building information modeling (BIM), as well as combine and overlay them.

Concept image showing two architects viewing a city-level point cloud model generated by a hologram.

3. How Accurate are Point Clouds?

A recent survey conducted by NavVis and a variety of leading 3D technology publications, including Geo Week News, sheds light on industry attitudes toward point cloud and mobile mapping accuracy and quality. With roughly three out of four professionals saying point clouds are accurate enough for their needs, it’s a clear sign of the reliability of point clouds.

Because modern scanners can capture so many data points, there’s little argument overall that point cloud technology is accurate. As long as surveyors are attentive and follow best practices, they can almost always capture the data needed to generate an accurate model.

The industry survey also noted that quality, as opposed to accuracy, is the leading consideration for professionals in the field. A lack of quality can make it difficult to find specific elements in a point cloud model, even if all of them are accurate. This issue is much more prevalent with mobile scanners than with fixed ones, due to the additional technology involved.

4. What is Point Cloud Processing?

Point cloud processing is the act of transforming the data gathered by a Lidar or other scanner into a model. This is a foundational need when it comes to these clouds. The raw data alone doesn’t provide the rich model that’s so useful for professionals in a variety of industries.

One common task completed as part of processing is aligning several partial scans of a complex area or object. This creates a more accurate and high-quality final model.

Processing will also convert individual data points into shapes that better represent the appearance of the scanner’s target. That makes for a richer and more useful final model.

5. Where Can I Find a Point Cloud Library?

The Point Cloud Library (PCL) is an open-source, standalone project. It is free for both commercial and research use, the PCL explains.

The free, in-depth resources this project provides can help professionals, amateurs, and all others interested in point clouds learn more about point cloud processing.

Making the Most of Your Point Cloud Data and Models

Point clouds play a key role in the digital visualization of everything from small individual components to entire buildings and neighborhoods. When combined with other 3D datasets, like BIM, and other project and asset information, point clouds can become even more valuable.

Transforming data into insights is the ultimate goal of gathering information like point clouds. The right software solution can bring 3D datasets and additional information together in a way that fosters collaboration and provides a single source of truth.

JP Interactive Viewer does exactly that, providing one system to store and connect all project, operational, KPI, analytics, modeling, and other data. The result is an end-to-end digital twin solution — a full and complete model of your organization’s facilities or its projects.
Ready to learn more? Try a demo and we can show you how it works!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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.