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Technology Basics

Educational Articles on Laser Scanning Basics

The educational articles listed below include technical white papers and a series of articles written by Geoff Jacobs for the Professional Surveyor magazine on the basics of 3D laser scanning, also known as High-Definition Surveying.  Click on the Download button to download a PDF:



The Context Benefit

Professional Surveyor Magazine, September 2010
This article describes the benefit of "additional context" that rich, High-Definition Surveys provide clients by  automatically capturing additional site details that are not ordinarily captured by traditional surveying methods


Versatility Factors for 3D Scanning Software

Professional Surveyor magazine, March 2010
Final part of this 3-part series on product versatility factors. This one details 10 different factors that prospective users should evaluate when considering which point cloud software is best suited to their needs

Laser Scanner Versatility Factors - Part 2

Professional Surveyor Magazine, January 2010
Second in this 3-part series on versatility factors of 3D laser scanners and laser scanning software.


Scanning for BIM: Today's reality

Professional Surveyor Magazine, June 2010
This article describes the role of laser scanning in Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the status this application today. Demand for 3D scanning is increasing sharply, driven mostly by contractors.


Laser Scanner Versatility Factors - Part 1

Professional Surveyor Magazine, October 2009
This article discusses several scanner versatility factors and how to assess them against your organization’s needs.


Accuracy of Scan Points

Professional Surveyor magazine, July 2009
This article describes sources of errors for individual scan points. Sources include instrument error sources and possible errors in using software that is not specifically designed for the task of optimal point selection. Numerous factors are described along with guidance on how to ensure the required point accuracy for deliverables.


Deliverables - with Competitive Advantage

Professional Surveyor Magazine, April 2009
Laser scanning provides service organizations with many more options for deliverables to give clients, in addition to traditional deliverables. These additional types of deliverables offer benefits to clients and they can provide competitive advantage for service organizations.


Scanning Dodges Economic Storm

Professional Surveyor, Feb. 2009
Article details why and how HDS laser scanning users are doing well in tough economic times. Many examples are given along with guidance of low risk paths to enter scanning.


Getting Easier - Part 3

Part 3 of the series focuses on advances in software interfaces for laser scanning


Getting Easier - Part 2: In the office

Part 2 of this 3-Part series describes advances in office software that have made the technology easier to learn and use.


White Paper - Creating Standards and Specification

for the use of Laser Scanning in Caltrans Projects.
Independent testing of scanners and software by University of California at Davis, June 2008.


Getting Easier - Part 1: In the field

Part 1 of a 3-Part series describes key technology advances over the last ten years that have made laser scanning easier in the field.


Using Multiple Laser Scanners on Projects

Most organizations still don’t own their first laser scanner, yet there’s already a strong trend emerging among many that do: using multiple scanners on a single project. This article describes what’s behind this trend, with a focus on how progressive users are using different types of scanners for different parts of a project.


User Feedback on Scanners with Tilt Compensation

In the February 2007 issue of Professional Surveyor Magazine (pp 50 – 52), I described the fairly recent introduction of survey grade tilt or dual-axis compensation into laser scanners.

Two Big New Benefits of Laser Scanning

"Free TruView laser scan bubble-view/measure/markup software adds two big new benefits for laser scanning"


Demand Increasing for Laser Scanning Part 2

A current industry trend toward 3D design and presentation is helping to drive increasing demand for 3D laser scanning. This first occurred with significance in the plant industry, one of the first industries to move heavily into 3D design.


Demand Increasing for Laser Scanning Part 1

In the surveying services business, when it comes to technology - such as high-definition surveying - there are basically two types of adopters.


Field Productivity Factors in Laser Scanning - 3

Part 3 of this 3-part series examines the scanning activity itself, including image/photo capture, and several field scanning productivity tips.


Field Productivity Factors in Laser Scanning - 2

Part 2 of this 3-part series considers an aspect of field productivity that is unique to high-defi nition surveying: the number of target setups.


Field Productivity Factors in Laser Scanning - 1

Just as with traditional survey instruments, many factors contribute to the actual field productivity achieved for any given type of laser scanner and project that includes high-definition surveying. Certain scanner capabilities also influence office productivity in creating deliverables from captured data.


Understanding Spot Size for Laser Scanning

In "Understanding Spot Size for Laser Scanning," Geoff Jacobs takes an in-depth look at an aspect of 3D laser scanning that can easily be misunderstood or even overlooked entirely. This article appears in the October 2006 issue of the Professional Surveyor Magazine.


Part 2: Latest Trends

Published in the July 2006 issue of Professional Surveyor magazine, Part 2 of the "Latest Trends" in 3D laser scanning covers "User, Industry, and Vendor Trends" such as increasing client demand, decreasing marketing costs, and emerging user networks. This is the second and final article in the 2 part "Latest Trends" series by Geoff Jacobs.


Latest Trends Part 1: User and Market Trends

"This article is the first of a 2-part series detailing the latest trends in high-definition surveying." Published in the June 2006 issue of Professional Surveyor magazine, Part 1 of the "Latest Trends" in laser scanning covers "User and Market Trends" such as the increasing user success, improved user practices, and decreasing costs of high-definition surveying.


Uses of Scanning in Asset Management

"This article, the third in a mini-series that describes the use of scanning in other stages of an asset’s lifecycle, covers uses in the Asset Management (or Maintenance & Operations) stage." The article "Uses of Scanning in Asset Management," appears in the April 2006 issue of Professional Surveyor magazine.


Uses of Scanning in Construction and Fabrication

"Uses of Scanning in Construction and Fabrication" details the applications and benefits of using high-definition surveys during these phases of a construction project. Specific user examples and project examples are given for civil, architectural, and plant construction projects. The article appears in the February 2006 issue of Professional Surveyor magazine.


Profitable Uses for Marketing Proposals

"Profitable Uses for Marketing Proposals," by Geoff Jacobs was published in the January 2006 issue of Professional Surveyor magazine and explains how high-definition surveying can have a profitable impact on the proposal stage of a project.


Forensic and Damage Assessment Surveys

"Forensic and Damage Assessment Surveys," by Geoff Jacobs was published in the pages of the November 2005 issue of Professional Surveyor magazine and delves into the benefits of using high-definition surveying for forensic projects.


Laser Scanning: Big Advantages for Small Projects

"Laser Scanning: Big Advantages, Even for Small Projects," was written by Geoff Jacobs for the October 2005 issue of Professional Surveyor magazine.


Twenty-Foot Cross-Sections

"Standard Twenty-Foot Cross-Sections? No Problem!" by Geoff Jacobs was published in the September 2005 issue of Professional Surveyor magazine. "This article closely examines trends among clients who are today receiving deliverables based on high-definition surveys and what some of these key, leading edge clients are now requesting. Brace yourself..."


Sources of Field Labor Savings

"Just like the Yellow Pages, laser scanning can offer similar benefits of time savings and convenience for many topographic, engineering, asbuilt, and detail surveys. This article delves into the root source of these potential field labor savings, a large part of which is 'letting the scanner do the walking.'" By Geoff Jacobs


Registration & Geo-referencing

In the February 2005 issue of Professional Surveyor, the article, 'Understanding Laser Scanning Terminology,' briefly described the concepts of 'registration' and 'geo-referencing' as related to high-definition surveys. This article examines these critical steps in detail, with added focus on recommended practices for increasing theaccuracy of and confidence registration/geo-referencing, while minimizing field and office labor." By Geoff Jacobs


Uses in Building and Architectural Surveys

"The use of high-definition surveying/laser scanning for various types of building and architectural surveys is becoming more mainstream everyday. This article takes a closer look at the specific applications and benefits that this technology brings to these types of projects."
By Geoff Jacobs


High-Definition Surveying: Uses in Transportation

"The use of high-definition surveying/laser scanning for transportation-related projects is one of the 'sweet spots' for this technology. This article takes a closer look at the latest trends and the specific applications and benefits that this technology brings to transportation projects today."
By Geoff Jacobs


Laser Scanning Capabilities And How To Get There

At some point, key individuals within an agency or firm may reach the conclusion that highdefinition surveying technology can benefit their company. They may then be ready to take advantage of this technology. The questions are: How? What's the best way for our organization? What options are available today, and what are the trade-offs between the various options?


Laser Scanning Today: Another Tool in the Kit

"When 3D laser scanning was introduced in early 1998, many interesting commercial ideas arose on how to take advantage of the technology. Some of those ideas proved more successful than others. This article will examine, in order of decreasing business risk, four business models that organizations have implemented for this technology, including the business model that is most often successful today."
By Geoff Jacobs


Skills and resources to succeed in laser scanning

"This article examines the skills/resources typically needed today for success as a provider of services that include laser scanning. These include fundamental skills/resources in field surveying and office processing, plus the business aspects of marketing and project estimating."
By Geoff Jacobs


Understanding the useful range of laser scanners

"This article will discuss one commonly misunderstood aspect of laser scanners, 'Maximum Range' (future articles will cover other aspects). 'Maximum range' does not necessarily have the same practical meaning for laser scanners as it may for a total station. This article will try to help clarify why this is the case and how users can better assess the 'useful range' of laser scanners."
By Geoff Jacobs


Versatility: A hidden instrument in laser scanners

"Many professionals think of 3D laser scanners in terms of capturing scenes with high point density. There is another application of laser scanners that is rapidly gaining popularity among many users. It’s based on what one might call a'hidden instrument' within a laser scanner, a hidd en instrument that is essentially another form—a very powerful form—of a reflectorless total station."
By Geoff Jacobs


Extracting Points, Lines, Surfaces, & Models

"The potential advantages of dense point data, such as creating more complete and accurate as-builts, have also been covered in earlier articles (May, July, and August 2004). High point density, however, raises some interesting new questions—and opportunities—regarding the task of extracting traditional deliverables."
By Geoff Jacobs

The Projects that Benefit Most from HDS

"This article delves into what types of 'projects' are the best candidates for high-definition surveys."
By Geoff Jacobs


Sites and Structures that Benefit Most from HDS

"This article delves into what types of 'sites and structures' are the best candidates for laser scan surveys. A subsequent article will delve into types of projects."
By Geoff Jacobs


3D Laser Scanning

"Since 3D laser scanning technology first splashed onto the scene in 1998, professionals have had varying interpretations about what makes this technology different from others[...]
The fact is that 3D laser scanning is about all of those things and more. Fundamentally, however, its single most important and differentiating technical aspect is its high point density. With high point density as 'the primary driver,' its other key features are natural companions."
By Geoff Jacobs





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