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June 19, 2023 Paul Tice

5 Essential Tips for Choosing Reality Capture Solutions

construction worker using reality capture solutions such as a drone on site

From designing stunning structures to optimizing project workflows, reality capture solutions are here to revolutionize your work.

But with a multitude of options available come a multitude of questions: how do you choose the perfect technology and decide whether to outsource? What happens if you choose the wrong solution? Which technology is best for this particular project? How can the solution deliver a return on investment?

These questions are enough to keep you up at night. Fortunately, you’re in the right place to get some peace of mind.

You’re about to learn how the right reality capture solutions can elevate your projects, from creating accurate as-built documentation to facilitating clash detection and visualizing architectural designs in breathtaking detail.

So, if you’re ready to unlock the full potential of reality capture in the AEC industry, keep reading and join us on this enlightening journey.

1. Define Your Project’s Requirements

Picture this: you’re embarking on a new project. You have big plans and high expectations. But here’s the crucial question: do you have a clear understanding of your project requirements?

Defining your project requirements is like laying a solid foundation for success. It sets the stage for choosing the right reality capture solution that will seamlessly integrate into your workflow and bring your vision to life.

Start by considering the type and size of your project. Are you working on a large-scale commercial development, a residential building, or perhaps an infrastructure project?

Each project type has its own unique characteristics and demands. This gives you the information needed to narrow down the reality capture technologies that are best suited for your needs.

For instance, if you’re dealing with a vast construction site, aerial drone imaging might be the ideal choice to capture the entire landscape efficiently to support logistics planning and as-builts for underground assets.

Next, think about the level of accuracy required for your project. The level of detail you need depends on various factors such as regulatory requirements, project complexity, and intended use of the captured data. If you’re creating an intricate architectural model and need as-builts at sub-inch precision, laser scanning with high point cloud density gives you the accuracy you need for detailed representation.

Speaking of complexity, assess the intricacy of your site. Is it a straightforward site with simple geometry, or does it have complex structures, irregular shapes, or challenging terrain?

Certain reality capture technologies excel in specific environments. For instance, photogrammetry, which uses images captured from different angles, can effectively capture detailed information on intricate surfaces such as a building façade.

On the other hand, LiDAR scanning is ideal for capturing accurate data in challenging outdoor environments with vegetation covering assets or dense urban areas.

2. Evaluate the Technology

Once you’ve defined your project requirements, it’s time to delve into the diverse array of technologies available. Each of these cutting-edge tools brings its own unique strengths and capabilities to the table. Let’s evaluate these technologies and discover which one is the perfect fit for your project.

3D Laser Scanning / LiDAR

One highly regarded technology in the world of reality capture is LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). LiDAR is particularly well-suited for projects that demand exceptional precision and density of point cloud data.

If you’re working on a large-scale endeavor such as a data center or an infrastructure development, LiDAR’s ability to swiftly capture complex structures will prove invaluable. Moreover, it shines in projects involving intricate architectural elements, historical preservation, or renovation efforts where capturing fine details is crucial.

By utilizing lasers to capture millions of data points, LiDAR creates an incredibly precise and comprehensive representation of the scanned area.

This technology is a perfect fit for projects that require a high level of detail, such as architectural design, structural analysis, and construction planning. In the realm of large commercial projects, where accurately capturing existing conditions is paramount for seamless integration with new designs, LiDAR technology shines brightly.


If you’re seeking a technology that captures intricate surface details, look no further than photogrammetry. This technique involves capturing and analyzing images from multiple angles to create detailed 3D models.

It proves particularly beneficial for projects centered around heritage preservation, archaeological documentation, and other forms of complex geometry documentation where photorealism is invaluable to project goals. In residential builds, where interior spaces and realistic visualizations play a crucial role in design and marketing, photogrammetry can be a game-changer, especially when combined with LiDAR through post-processing techniques.

360 Capture

And let’s not forget the captivating world of 360 capture. By employing specialized cameras, this technology captures the entirety of the surrounding environment, providing a holistic view of the space.

360 capture excels in projects that demand immersive and interactive experiences, such as virtual tours, virtual reality applications, or captivating visualizations. Industries like real estate greatly benefit from this technology, as potential buyers can explore properties remotely and truly experience them as if they were physically present. These are especially useful in construction progress photos.

Remember, the choice of technology ultimately depends on the specific requirements of your project. Take into account the level of detail needed, the complexity of the site, and the desired outcome.

3. Consider the Cost

As you navigate the world of capturing reality, you can’t overlook the financial implications that come along with it. From the necessary hardware and software to training, support, and staff time, understanding the full spectrum of costs is key.

Let’s talk about the upfront investment required. Reality capture technologies often entail purchasing or renting specialized hardware, such as laser scanners, cameras, drones, or other sensing devices.

These upfront costs can vary significantly depending on the type of technology and its capabilities.

Additionally, consider the accompanying software licenses that enable you to process and analyze the captured data. Keep in mind that software costs may be recurring, such as annual subscriptions or maintenance fees, so include them in your budget calculations.

Training and expertise are crucial components when adopting reality capture technologies. It’s essential to allocate resources for staff training to ensure they are proficient in operating the chosen technology effectively.

Training can be in the form of workshops, online courses, or hiring experts for personalized instruction. Investing in proper training minimizes errors, optimizes data collection, and maximizes the return on your investment.

Let’s not forget the precious commodity of time. Staff members will need time to learn, practice, and operate the reality capture technology effectively. Consider the opportunity cost of their time spent on training and operating the equipment. Balancing these demands with their other responsibilities is crucial to maintain productivity across your projects.

Processing and analyzing the captured data also incur costs. Depending on the complexity of the data and the desired outputs, you may need to invest in specialized software or hire experts to process and analyze the data accurately. These costs should be factored into your budget to ensure a comprehensive financial plan.

Should You Outsource Reality Capture?

Now, let’s address the question of outsourcing. Engaging a reality capture service provider can be an alternative worth considering. Outsourcing allows you to tap into the expertise and experience of professionals who specialize in reality capture.

While outsourcing comes with its own costs, it can save you the upfront investment in hardware and software, as well as the training and support expenses. It offers a convenient option for projects with limited budgets, short timeframes, or a one-time need for reality capture.

When evaluating outsourcing costs, consider factors such as project scope, data complexity, and the level of expertise required. Service providers typically offer various pricing models, including fixed project-based fees or hourly rates. Discuss your project requirements with potential service providers to obtain accurate cost estimates.

4. Look for Experience and Expertise

As you consider the possibility of outsourcing reality capture for your AEC projects, it’s vital to find a partner who possesses the necessary knowledge, skills, and track record. Let’s dive into the realm of outsourcing and explore what factors you should consider beyond experience and expertise.

First and foremost, experience matters. Look for a service provider with a proven track record in reality capture within the AEC industry.

Seek out companies that have successfully completed projects similar to yours, whether it’s large commercial developments, historic preservation, or intricate residential builds. An experienced provider will be well-versed in the challenges specific to your project type, ensuring a smooth and efficient process.

In addition to technical expertise, consider the provider’s understanding of the AEC industry. Look for a partner who comprehends the unique requirements, workflows, and deliverables within the architecture, engineering, and construction sectors.

They should have a solid grasp of the data formats, modeling standards, and compatibility with popular design and analysis software used in the industry.

Communication and collaboration are vital aspects of successful outsourcing. Seek a provider who maintains clear and open lines of communication throughout the project. This includes regular progress updates, responsiveness to queries, and a willingness to collaborate closely with your team.

Another aspect to consider is the provider’s range of services. Beyond capturing reality, do they offer additional services such as VDC consulting, data processing, analysis, or visualization? Having a comprehensive suite of services can save you time and effort by streamlining the entire process.

Lastly, consider the provider’s capacity and scalability. Can they handle projects of your size and complexity? Will they be able to accommodate your timelines and scale up resources if needed? It’s important to ensure that the provider has the bandwidth to meet your project requirements effectively and efficiently.

5. Don’t Forget About Data Management

Reality capture technologies are like data-generating machines on steroids! Laser scanning, photogrammetry, and drone imaging unleash a deluge of data in the form of point clouds, 3D models, high-resolution images, and more. Wrangling this data is no joke; it’s essential to manage it effectively for a multitude of reasons.

Let’s start with the storage and organization dance. Trust me, the sheer volume of data can quickly fill your hard drives and servers if left unmanaged. To prevent chaos, choose a solution that provides ample storage capacity.

A clever system for data organization, classification, and indexing will be your best friend, allowing easy retrieval and saving precious time during the project’s lifecycle.

Now, it’s time to discuss data integrity and quality control. You want accurate, reliable data for decision-making, right? So, when selecting a reality capture solution, ensure it offers tools and processes for data validation, error detection, and accuracy assessment. You want those quality control mechanisms flexing their muscles, catching any sneaky issues during the capture process.

Data security is no laughing matter. Reality capture data spills the beans on sensitive information about sites, structures, and designs. So, lock it up tight! Look for a solution that implements robust data security measures like encryption, restricted access controls, backup and disaster recovery plans, and compliance with data protection regulations.

So, why does data management rule the roost? Well, it’s all about long-term value. As your project progresses, you’ll want to revisit and analyze that captured data for facility management, maintenance, or future renovations. The power is in your hands to unlock the secrets hidden within your reality capture treasure trove.

Choosing Reality Capture Solutions for Your Next Project

Choosing the right reality capture solution is a pivotal step in unlocking the full potential of technology for AEC professionals.

Once you have understood the project requirements, evaluated technologies, considered costs, sought experience and expertise, and prioritized data management, you will be able to make informed decisions that align with your project goals.

Remember, the world of reality capture offers immense benefits, including enhanced accuracy, improved collaboration, and data-driven decision-making.

Explore the possibilities, research reputable providers, and embark on a reality capture journey that revolutionizes your AEC projects. By leveraging the right reality capture solution, you’ll gain a competitive edge, save costs, and achieve exceptional project outcomes that push the boundaries of innovation and excellence in the industry.

Check out our reality capture hosting tools so you can easily manage data today!


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