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Autodesk Getting in to Point Cloud Technology

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: February 4 2013

Autodesk, the leader in cloud-based design and engineering software, continues with its cloud software investments. Most recently, it acquired (for an undisclosed sum) technology and a development team from Allpoint Systems LLC, a small Pittsburgh, PA–based developer of software and solutions for collecting and processing LiDAR (light detection and ranging) point cloud data. The Allpoint Systems team and technology, which offers software and data processing solutions for collecting and processing LiDAR data to the roadway and building markets, will help Autodesk expand the development of cloud-based reality capture software and solutions.

The acquisition of Allpoint Systems reflects Autodesk’s continued investment in developing sophisticated, easy-to-use, and easily accessible reality capture technologies. Reality capture is the practice of creating digital models of physical objects and spaces using photography, laser scanning, and other technologies. The Allpoint Systems technology and team will bring to Autodesk significant data registration, automation, and robotics technology as well as expertise that will expand Autodesk’s portfolio of reality capture software. The technology complements existing Autodesk capabilities, including previously acquired technology from Alice Labs and RealViz.

Allpoint Systems developed software and data processing for the massive amounts of data created by 3D scanners. People use a device (in this case, laser) to collect points’ location info from an object. If one can collect enough points all around the object for a cloud of points, the data can then be converted into a 3D model. The company has been focused on the civil engineering market, specifically roadways and building scanning that is done using LiDAR, which is in tune with Autodesk’s industry focus.

Rather than completely moving to the cloud, I think that most companies will first try a portion of business or a process in the cloud. A hybrid cloud or point cloud deployment is a lower risk option. For each add-on process that uses a different database, operating system, toolset, etc., the ability to outsource specialized information technology (IT) resources could provide a great return on investment (ROI) for companies. With its continued cloud strategy in the realms of simulation, CAD, and PLM, Autodesk seems to be on to something.
 
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