BY BRIAN BARTH
It’s been more than a decade since Google Earth put 3-D mapping in the hands of anyone with an Internet connection. Now, armchair map geeks can fly through the skyline of virtually any city in the world to check out, say, the architecture of the Louvre or take a virtual stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries using Google Street View. The ability to cost-effectively produce such imagery on a global scale stems in part from advances in 3-D scanning, a term of art that encompasses LiDAR (light detection and ranging), drone-based photography, ground-penetrating radar, and other advanced imaging technologies.
Three-dimensional scanning has become so inexpensive and user-friendly that design firms are starting to experiment with it. Architects and engineers use it to help create as-built drawings of bridges and buildings and for “clash detection” when designing additions or renovations of historic structures. Urban planners use it as a visualization tool when modeling different development scenarios. Anything that can be 3-D scanned can be 3-D printed, and (more…)