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BIM Point Cloud online management

Learn how to visualize, share, and manage point clouds using an online tool while following an open BIM workflow.

Point clouds are undoubtedly the best method for obtaining a detailed survey of the as-is state of a building, infrastructure, or any structure in general.

But how do you manage a point cloud? Which software do you need?

If you’ve been given a point cloud and are unsure how to open and view it, this article will guide you through the process. We’ll be using an online point cloud viewer that’s completely free and requires no downloads to your computer. This means you can manage even large point clouds from any device. Let’s dive in.

What is a Point Cloud and what is it used for?

A point cloud is a collection of points in 3D space. Each point is defined by spatial coordinates (x, y, z) that indicate its position in space and may have additional characteristics (color, depth, etc.). These points result from surveys conducted using photogrammetry or 3D laser scanners.

Such point clouds accurately represent the as-is condition of the scanned object and serve as a basis for generating 3D models or for studying and analyzing existing conditions. Their applications are diverse, spanning from architectural restoration to renovation projects, from urban planning to civil engineering, and even to existing infrastructure monitoring.

How to view and manage a Point Cloud online

If you need to handle a point cloud but prefer not to download additional software to your computer, you can utilize an online point cloud viewer. If you require guidance on this process, follow these instructions closely.

To get started, you need to access the cloud of the integrated usBIM system by entering your login credentials (email and password).

If you don’t have an ACCA account yet:

  • Visit the MyACCA page;
  • Complete the registration by providing your details;
  • Enter your email and choose a password.

Now you’re ready to proceed. Let’s see how to import the point cloud to the usBIM cloud.

How to Import a Point Cloud

Importing a point cloud is straightforward:

  • Create a new folder;
  • Upload the file into the folder using a simple drag-and-drop operation.

This way, by simply clicking on the uploaded file, you can already utilize all the features of the online point cloud viewer and handle BIM point clouds online.

Importing a Point Cloud to usBIM Cloud

Features of a Point Cloud Viewer

usBIM.pointcloud is not just a point cloud viewer; it’s a full-fledged online tool that enables you to manage surveys and perform various useful operations. Let’s explore its capabilities.

With a point cloud viewer, you can:

  • Visualize the point cloud;
  • Navigate in first-person or orbit mode;
  • Generate infinite sections;
  • Manage the survey from any internet-connected device;
  • Share the file directly with a link that points to the cloud folder;
  • Take measurements directly on the model;
  • Federate multiple models simultaneously in the same view;
  • Add annotations and external links to the model, creating a comprehensive information repository to share with colleagues.

The benefits of online management are numerous:

  • Swift access to data thanks to the cloud;
  • Simultaneous collaboration on the same model with colleagues;
  • Advanced functions for federating multiple models with different file extensions;
  • Time and cost savings as there’s no need to download files or invest in expensive data processing software;
  • User-friendly interface, suitable for non-expert users;
  • Point cloud management from any internet-connected device (PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.);
  • Integration of BIM and GIS, placing the point cloud in its context;
  • Navigation of point clouds of any size using just your browser, without downloading any files to your computer.

Supported Import Formats

Point clouds can be processed in various file formats. The most common formats include PLY (Polygon File Format), LAS (LiDAR Data Exchange Format), E57 (ASTM E57 Standard), and more. With usBIM.pointcloud, you can import and manage the most widely used file formats, including:

  • E57;
  • LAS;
  • LAZ;
  • XYZ;
  • ASC;
  • PLY;
  • PTS.

From Point Cloud to 3D Model with BIM Software

The primary purpose of a point cloud is to obtain a 3D model of the as-is state of the object under analysis. By using Point Cloud to BIM software, you can transition from a point cloud to a 3D model quite rapidly and with the aid of automation that simplifies your work. If you’re interested in this topic, I recommend reading the in-depth article “How to Create a 3D Model from a Point Cloud.”