This blog post (now to be a series of 5 posts!) follows on from two early first impressions posts I did.  I have got to be honest; I received a lot of positive feedback but also a bit of push back from certain quarters who either dislike Apple or think this tech is not true LiDAR/survey equipment.  I understand many of the responses, excited and cynical in equal measure.  For me though it is a balance.  I love gadgets but I am also quite cynical when new tech promises things that sound to good to be true.  To me the iPhone 12 Pro (the one with LiDAR tech) did not promise amazing mapping capabilities or even 3D modelling.  The LiDAR was there for AR and low light photography.  So, the new iPhone was a nice upgrade with some curious new LiDAR thingy which I hoped would do some cool 3D scanning.

I have already had experience with the Structure Sensor 2 (from Occiptal) which I did have high hopes for. I had bought that, hoping it could scan rooms and external parts of buildings.  It showed promise but its range is 3m and does not work well outside or on bright surfaces.  Bottom line I have not really used it much.  So naturally I was more cautious with this tech! 

After all the excitement of a new device, after the hype and very much after a bit of use and real world work I’ve decided to write this.  As promised on my first linkedin post these series of posts will cover some of the apps I have used and the professional software that works for me (free and paid).  Understand that this as always is my personal experience, if you think this could work for you, do your own investigations as well. I would hate for you to get things wrong because I had suggested it would work for you.

TL:DR: My overall conclusion is this, the new iPhone1 12 Pro is useful now.

Simple rendering of your scans can make them look much better than they are honestly!

Now I’ve got the terms and conditions out of the way I can continue.

As a consultant I have a pretty varied workload.   Primarily focused on 3D Procedural modelling through ArcGIS CityEngine both consultancy and training, I also do mapping and knowledge transfer using ArcGIS Pro.  I also do regular 3D modelling using SketchUp.  In addition, I help with domestic Architectural projects we (Garsdale Design Limited) do where there is a great deal of measuring of historic buildings (barns and farm houses).  This is typical of the area I live and work within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. 

I am therefore going to split this long post into a series of 5 (I will update this page with the new links when I they are published, it may take a few days!):

  1. Quick Scanning tips, tricks, and software
  2. 3D Object Scans software and publishing
  3. Building Scans (inside and out) CAD and GIS
  4. Mapping with ArcGIS Pro
  5. Using 3D Scans in ArcGIS CityEngine (yup I must do this one!)

I aim to cover use and publishing in these posts, I also do not want to writing all day so I aim to make these posts as brief as possible!  Some will cover point cloud use and some will cover 3D meshes.

NOTE: Before I start a quick set of thoughts on the technology the iPhone 12 Pro uses. I have tried a lot of apps now for the iPhone12Pro and I get the feeling that they are all using much of the same underlying technology, obviously Apple provides SDKs and APIs for the developers to use so this isn’t surprising.  Whether exporting a 3D model mesh or a pointcloud (regardless of format) I get the feeling you are accessing similar accuracies and issues etc. in the hardware and software.  That doesn’t mean all the applications are the same, far from it.  Applications like RoomScan LIDAR for example do clever things from it like create straight lines for walls. Canvas provides additional services to create proper clean models as well. Bottom line figure out what you need from all of this  before choosing your application and workflow.

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