Open standard targets 3-D point clouds

Laser-based three-dimensional imaging systems require a general-purpose, open standard for storing point-cloud data to promote data interoperability among the systems.

Three-dimensional imaging systems including laser scanners are used in a variety of applications ranging from automotive-part inspection to surveying complex pipe assemblies. Indeed, just in January 2011, we reported on such a system used to perform the high-speed inspection of train tunnels. These systems produce large data sets of 3-D point-cloud measurements; however, according to Daniel Huber, a faculty member of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) there is a need for a general-purpose, open standard for storing point-cloud data to promote data interoperability among the systems.

For the past three years, a group of volunteers within ASTM International (West Conshohocken, PA, USA) has been working on developing such an open standard. The volunteers are members of the E57.04 subcommittee that includes representatives from 3-D imaging-system manufacturers, software vendors, service providers, industry consultants, and academic researchers.

The E57 file format for 3-D imaging-data exchange is designed as a general-purpose, open standard for storing 3-D imaging data. It can store point-cloud data from laser scanners but also can encode data from flash lidar systems, structured-light 3-D scanners, stereo-vision systems, and other devices that produce 3-D measurements. It can also store associated 2-D imagery, such as that produced by digital cameras, and core metadata associated with the 2-D images and 3-D points. As a proof of concept of the E57 file format, an open-source reference library has been developed that is capable of reading, writing, and validating files in this format. For more information, go to http://bit.ly/ggoWsM.

-- Posted by Vision Systems Design

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