Friday, February 28, 2014

TATTS team uses Pix4D to create 3D point clouds

There is a lot of software available for viewing and processing imagery that is collected from the air with unmanned aerial systems (UAS).  One of the market leaders is Pix4D.  Located in western Switzerland on the shores of Lake Geneva and founded by Christoph Strecha, this company brings together computer vision and multi-ray photogrammetry to provide software that allows you to, amongst other things, create 3D models based on the imagery taken from a UAS.

We downloaded an evaluation copy of the software and processed through a sample of our data to give the kids a feeling for how it works.  The model that was generated is comprised of about 1,000,000 3-dimensional points (referred to collectively as a 'point cloud') that have actual X, Y and Z coordinates and are colored based on the source imagery.  You can move through the point cloud, take measurements and extract data from it.  Mapping companies do this sort of thing regularly.

The clip below is a TATTS team member - Mitchell - interacting with the point cloud within Pix4D.  You gotta love his excitement.  Notice in the beginning the 20 or so images that are floating in the air.  Those are the pictures taken from our hexarotor.  Notice too that when he clicks on the ground the red lines show which images can see that particular point.  You need at least 2 images to have the same point in order to generate a 3D model.

Interestingly, if you zoom in tight enough, the individual points in the point cloud look like small blocks.  Guess what game that reminded him of?  Watch the video and you'll see. 

Here is a screen shot from Pix4D of the point cloud.



  1. Truly amazing technology and it's great to see Mitchell's excitement. In the mechanical design world we 3D scan smaller objects to generate 3D models of them, you may want to check out 123D Catch from Autodesk, an iPhone app that allows you to take pictures of objects and generate 3D models from them.

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  3. We are proud to be part of the TATTS project! It's fantastic to see in what diverse ways our software is used, even by children! And what a nice way of confirming that this new mapping technology using UAV imagery and our software is truly easy to use and excites not only GIS professionals but also children. Thanks for making us part of your project.