I was at AEC Hackathon in Dallas from May 1st to 3rd. This time I joined with Shiya Lu, the newest member of my team.
This was my fourth AEC Hachathon (including the one organized by Thornton Tomasetti last May). It turned out to be the smallest among the ones that I attended: about 30 participants probably. But the size does not seem to matter when it comes to Hackathon. There is always excitement, energy, new experience and discovery. While with larger ones, your attention span tends to get choppy (e.g., you may find yourself repeating introduction one after another), a smaller one seems to give you more time to get to know each other one step further.
During the Dallas event, I had a honor of meeting Malcolm D. Williamson, Geospatial Education and Research Manager, Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST) at the University of Arkansas. He is known as “Time Scanners” researcher.
He and his team from CAST have been using laser scanner since the invention of the technique for more than 10 years. He has been traveling around the world, scanning various ancient and historical structures, such as the Monastery in Petra, Jordan, pyramids in Egypt (the tombs of pharaohs), the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru, and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Those scanned data, called point clouds, were collected and analyzed, leading to new discovery. Their work appeared in the TV series called “Time Scanners” by PBS last year.
During his talk, he also talked about his work on applying the technology to the areas of construction and facility management; instead of recreating 3D CAD model of the buildings on campus from scratch, overlaying points clouds and existing 2D/3D drawings, and adding attributes to spaces, for example.
After the introduction of what we do, we both got interested in each other’s work. We decided to try out his laser scanned data in A360 viewer. Malcolm kindly shared data collected from Machu Picchu, Peru. (Some data are not available for us to use without permission.) Below is a snapshot with Machu Picchu data in A360 viewer.
Point clouds data from Temple of Condor, Machu Picchu, Peru, in A360 Viewer. Data courtesy of Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, (University of Arkansas) and Cotsen Institute for Archaeology (UCLA)
If you follow the links below, you can see the actual models in 3D viewer:
Tip: With the first model, the orientation shows in the opposite direction in the viewer. You will need to rotate around to flip the the direction to upside down.
Warning: This site will expire in 30 days (June 1st). So be quick if you want to check it out yourself :-)
As you can easily imagine, point clouds data can be massive. So we tried with smaller models to start with. Also, the original data uses proprietary format and requires a special software to open. This example uses .obj file. Try zoom in and rotate, you will “feel” the intricate detail of their stone masonry work. No property data attached with this data.
In case you are interested in reading more about Malcolm D. Williamson and CAST team's work, I have included a few links here. You will find many fascinating reading:
- Short Takes: Time Scanners | University of Arkansas (a short YouTube video)
- CAST: Capturing History in the Sweep of a Laser
- Petra behind the scenes
- Laser, camera, action!
- Scanning History (This site has a very nice team photo!)
Below are a few photos from the AEC Hackathon Dallas. You can find the summary of the event here.
Malcolm D. Williamson (right) and Mikako trying A360 viewer with Machu Picchu data. Along the wall behind the laptop is the laser scanning equipment that Malcolm brought.
Top left: Electrical Power Safety team in deep thinking mode. Top right: Ron Dagdag experimenting with all sort of gadgets: leap motion, Google card board, flex sensors, Arduino, and smart phone, connecting with View and Data API. Bottom right and left: Tim Logan wearing Emotiv brain wave sensor headset. He was working to control a model with a blink of eyes :-)