Point cloud clusters: how to view and manage them online using a common browser
Even if you need to view very complex and detailed point cloud clusters, it’s not always necessary to install expensive software tools. In fact, with today’s web viewing technologies, you can view and manage point cloud cluster files using simple but at the same time powerful online viewers such as usBIM.pointcloud, one of the free usBIM integrated applications.
Let’s have a look at how we can view point cloud files completely online without installing any software and a detailed overview of the usBIM.pointcloud features for managing the various types of point cloud files and how to share the 3D model together with views, annotations and information, while taking advantage of the usBIM collaborative platform.
Click here to discover more about the integrated usBIM system.
What is a point cloud used for?
A point cloud is a set of data points (thousands or even millions, depending on the degree of precision) with known coordinates in space that represents the digital model of a real object.
Point clouds are generated by means of 3D laser scanner surveys or with other technologies, and contain all relevant information from the survey useful for representing an existing object in three-dimension (buildings, monuments, public squares, etc.), including surface colour information. The most common file types are .LAS, .LAZ, .E57, .PLY, .PTS, .XYZ.
The laser scanner survey technique and point cloud generation represents one of the best forms of information and geometrical data acquisition currently available today.
In addition to this, data acquisition and processing times are now incredibly reduced leading to exceptional results both in terms of realistic output and efficient multi-purpose functionalities.
Let’s see what they are used for.
Point cloud clusters are used for many different purposes, some of the most common are:
- to browse within the scanned object
- to perform accurate model analysis
- to take measurements on the model, even reaching points that are not easily accessible in reality
- to obtain information regarding the true condition of an object (infrastructure, buildings, etc.)
- to compare various models
- to use point clouds as a guideline for preparing land surveys
- for analyzing colour or reflectivity data
- to generate a 3D mesh (surfaces composed of triangles with segments that connect to the point cloud nodes)
- to process an “intelligent” BIM model, containing all the information concerning the characteristics of laser scanned objects
- model processing and 3D printing.
Online point cloud viewer
As mentioned above, we can view point clouds even without having specific software.
The are many advantages of using an online viewer:
- no need to install any software
- you can forget about paying for software licences and extra fees for updates
- you can save space on your hard disk
- you can extend your viewing capabilities to any device connected to the internet.
usBIM.pointcloud is a free online viewer with the advantage of being integrated to a BIM collaboration platform (usBIM) that allows you to exhange models, files and information with clients and collaborators thanks to a simple link (shared through usBIM.chat).
This greatly simplifies the process of exchanging information. In fact, exchanging 3D survey files is not always a simple and straightforward operation: 3D files contain a huge amount of information and are usually quite heavy.
For this reason, sharing data directly in the cloud, opening 3D files from a browser without the need to download any application on your PC can be a great advantage.
At this point, let’s see how to use usBIM.pointcloud and take advantage of its functionalities.
Point cloud management functions
I suggest you to access the free usBIM service and use one of the sample files available in the “Shared with me” folder to experience firsthand the functionalities that I am going to show you.
To start off, simply access the usBIM page and insert your ACCA account credentials.
If you don’t have an ACCA account yet:
- go to the MyACCA page
- register an account by filling in your data
- enter your email address and password.
Now you are ready to access usBIM.pointcloud, to view all its features and also access the other free applications within the usBIM integrated system.
In summary, with usBIM.pointcloud you can:
- browse point clouds of any size and format (.LAS, .LAZ, .E57, .PLY, .PTS, .XYZ, etc.) directly online
- show your project results to clients free of charge and from any device connected to the Internet
- navigate even complex textured mesh models from your browser
- carry out measurements on the 3D model even if it has been created with a different software
- instantly create model sections at any desired point
- merge several 3D models, even with different file formats, thanks to the federation of BIM models (proprietary and non-proprietary) functions
- integrate your project with additional information and external links
- share point clouds and textured meshes also via usBIM chat without exchanging and duplicating files, thanks to a simple chat message.
- manage your 3D survey on a BIM platform.