Efficient ≠ Simple

Sam Billingsley, Director of our Reality Capture Group, discusses some of the issues that surveyors and reality capture professionals address each day in an article for SPAR3D.com.

The ideas I speak of are nothing revolutionary to most of you. I’m just using georeferenced sensors to digitize reality in the most efficient ways possible. We’re combining static scanners, mobile LiDAR, photogrammetry, traditional survey, etc., so that we are always using the best tool to capture each asset on each job. These are the same concepts we’ve all been preaching through SPAR for more than a decade now. But here’s the rub; efficient does not equal simple.

For more check out the entire article at:


Reality Capture Being Used on Notre Dame Rebuild

Those of us in the reality capture space have been capturing everything we found interesting from the moment we got our first scanners. I have scans of every place I’ve ever lived, several landmarks in my area and, of course, lots of historic structures. Thankfully, I’m far from alone in my desire to “scan it all!”

In this report from CBS news we get a chance to look at some of the work done by Prof. Andrew Tallon and video game developer Ubisoft, both of which have spent thousands of hours capturing and modeling the iconic cathedral.

LiDAR’s Going Mainstream

For years I’ve struggled to explain all that Reality Capture is, does, and can do to aid in understanding our world. The power and breadth of applications is exactly the thing that makes an elevator pitch near impossible. Generally, I avoid generalities, and just pick a specific application or project that I think someone will find interesting and talk about that. The downside is that much of the power of Reality Capture resides in the ability to visualize information. Talking about it does not do it justice. While I’ve long recognized this fact, it was really driven home this week as I watched TV with my kids.

For most of this week the National Geographic Channel has been showing programs that highlight the uses of reality capture in the fields of archaeology and anthropology. In particular, the shows Lost World of the Maya and Lost Treasures of the Mayan Snake King clearly demonstrate how LiDAR technology is redefining our understanding of the Mayan world by focusing on the remote sensing being spearheaded by PACUNAM.org. For those unfamiliar with ReCap tech, these shows provide powerful examples of how georeferenced sensors are changing our understanding of our environment, our resources, and our history. …and according to my kids, they do a much better job than any of my stories!

Creating Creativity

One of the best things about working with reality capture technologies is the freedom it provides to exercise creative thinking. In fact, it’s a necessity given that the associated technologies are all so new (or at the very least new in their applications). As Sam Billingsley (Director of RSA’s Reality Capture Group) explores in his most recent article for SPAR3D.com, ReCap may not only draw creative types but help create them based upon how we share information.

Read the Full Article Here 

Trimble Dimensions International Conference

Trimble Dimensions 2018, which was held last month at the Venetian in Las Vegas, saw more than 4000 attendees from around the world. Ragan-Smith was in attendance sending David Briley (Survey Manager), Kevin Birdwell (Survey Director), and Sam Billingsley (Director of Reality Capture). Sam presented both on a panel about Trimble SX10 field to finish procedures as well as a deep dive into Trimble Business Center 5.0’s point cloud module. While RSA leverages hardware and software solutions form multiple manufacturers, our survey department recently upgraded all field crews to new Trimble data collectors, GNSS receivers and Total Stations. As Survey Director Kevin Birdwell remarked,

“While it’s great to have a chance to connect with other users, the conference provided the opportunity to work with the very people making the tools that we use each day. Those relationships are integral to our success as we continue to push these new technologies to benefit our clients.”

Best of all the next Dimensions conference will be held right here in Nashville in 2020!

For more coverage of the conference check out Sam’s post for SPAR3D.com


RSA Scans World’s Largest 3D Printed Structure

Nashville’s OneC1TY development saw the erection of the world’s largest 3D printed structure this summer. The 20 ft x 40 ft (6 m x 12 m) pavilion was built by Branch Technologies of Chattanooga, TN using a design that does not require steel/non-printed supports. RSA’s Reality Capture Group is working with Branch Technologies to monitor the first of its kind structure through periodic mapping via terrestrial laser scanners.

I’ve been watching 3D printing for a long time now and even have a small one that I use at home. Even with that experience, it’s still amazing to see a 3D structure “in the wild” much less one of this size and significance given its prominence at the OneC1TY campus. – Sam Billingsley -Director, Reality Capture Group


BLK360 Laser Scanner

Ragan-Smith Acquires New Leica BLK360

Our Reality Capture Group has once again expanded their capabilities through the acquisition of a new 3D imaging system. The Leica BLK360 system is a short range 3D laser scanning system that bridges the gap between our indoor only devices like the Matterport Pro2 and our long range scanners like the Leica C10.

The BLK360 also offers new capture capabilities via an integrated FLIR Thermal Camera that allows us to map heat deviation in 3D. Additionally, the BLK360 greatly expands both the accuracy  and the size of environments that are available in the Matterport ecosystem.

“I was contacted by Leica with a request to perform a hands-on review of the BLK360 for the SPAR Newsletter. After having it for a few weeks, I wrote my review and returned the unit to Leica. Over the following weeks as I was responding to RFPs I suddenly found myself in the position of thinking about how much more efficient I could be in the field if I still had that BLK360. Combined with the ability to capture large open areas for Matterport 3D Spaces, the BLK360 helps us expand our capabilities without having to increase the cost to our clients.”

– Sam Billingsley, Director – Reality Capture Group



From Digital Reality to Digital Realty

Ragan-Smith is now using our Pro2 camera to create digital versions of models homes for our clients. The interactive presentation really stands out in a sea of PDFs and still images. This has  proven especially valuable to those moving from out of town that are unable to visit the builder’s model home. This single interface allows users to view floor-plans, a “dollhouse” 3D model, or to explore the interior in an immersive style similar to Google “StreetView”; and all from data that can be embedded on your own website.

Additionally, custom builders are finding it to be a great way to let their clients “experience” a design as opposed to trying to understand design drawings. By capturing examples as they are completed, these builders are creating a library of design options that clients can view online or “walk-through” using VR goggles from Google Cardboard to the Oculus Rift!

Passageways 2.0 Pro2 Mesh

RSA Helps Passageways 2.0 Competition

Ragan-Smith recently competed field data capture of an alleyway near our office in Chattanooga, TN to assist with Passageways 2.0. Passageways 2.0 is a design competition to “enhance a new downtown alleyway in the heart of Downtown Chattanooga’s City Center”.

The competition is presented by River City Company, Cogent Studios, and Public Art Chattanooga as an opportunity to recreate an existing alleyway into a destination for pedestrians in downtown Chattanooga. Through an open RFP process, they sought “unique, innovative design concepts with a cohesive artistic vision from multi-disciplinary design teams”. Forty-five proposals were submitted representing 11 countries including the United States, Italy, France, Canada, Malaysia, India and China.

Three semi-finalists have been selected to further develop site specific designs to permanently activate the proposed alleyway and create a vibrant pedestrian corridor that is habitable and can be adapted for use as a small public event space. Ragan-Smith assisted by capturing the existing conditions with our Matterport Pro2 for site visualization and with our Leica C10 laser scanner to capture more accurate dimensions on the entire site. This data was then used to create a Building Information Model (BIM) of the site in Revit that was sent to the three semi-finalists to aid in the development of their construction plans.

A winning team and concept will be announced in Spring 2018 and installed Fall of 2018. Passageways 2.0 is made possible by generous grants from the Benwood and Lyndhurst Foundations. Keep up with the project and see the submissions on the Passageways 2.0 Website. You can visit the 3D Space yourself or view it through the video below.