In the last couple of years, 3D laser scanners have become more and more popular (and useful) for surveying purposes. They are capable of delivering large quantities of spatial data, which cuts field time, improves versatility and enables accurate representations of spaces with high levels of detail. But, until recently, surveying 3D scanners have not been the most user-friendly tool for surveyors, based on their size, relatively high price and sometimes complex software. Yes, you could also use some of the modern total stations, that enable some sort of 3D scanning, but Leica exploited a void in the market by creating a new miniature 3D imaging laser scanner.
Leica called it the BLK360, and it was revealed at Autodesk University 2016. It wasn’t only the new product that was introduced, there is also new software from Autodesk that works with BLK360, and it is called ReCap 360 Pro. This new Leica BLK360 captures user’s surrondings with full-colour panoramic images laid over a high-accuracy point cloud. The product is said to be simple to use with just the single push of one button, beeing the smallest and lightest of its kind. Despite wheying only one kg, Leica BLK360 is packed with several remarkable features. It is capable of capturing 360,000 points per second, the scanner has a range of 60 meters and provides accuracy of 4 mm. It also offers different scanning methods, including infrared sensors for thermal imaging, as well as laser and visible light imaging. According to Leica, the scanner can capture a 360° scan in just three minutes, and is equipped for HDR and LED flash support. From a surveyors point of view, it is worth mentioning that BLK360 is also capable of auto registration of point-clouds.
In contrast to big (and sometimes heavy) traditional scanners and its software, you can use the ReCap Pro 360 mobile app, which allows the not much bigger than the iPad Leica BLK360 to streams image and point cloud data to an actual Apple tablet. The app filters and registers scanned data in real time, and can later transfer point-cloud data to a number of different formats (CAD, BIM, VR and AR) for all kinds of applications. The integration of BLK360 and Autodesk software considerably improves the process of capturing reality, and with its easy-to-use design also opens this technology to non-surveying users. In addition to that, Autodesk cloud services also enables users to share and transfer data into Autodesk design software for meshing, generating 3D models, and performing other tasks with the gathered data.
Leica and Autodesk took over a year to develop the new BLK360 3D scanner. It will be released in spring 2017 through Autodesk’s online distribution network and will cost 15,990$ (a bit over 15,000€), a price, which also includes a subscription to Autodesk’s ReCap 360 software. Reservations are allready possible, if you are interested in getting this miniature 3D scanner. Leica BLK360 also featured in recent CES in Las Vegas, where it was named a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree.
Check out the video bellow for more information about this interesting device!