How can we make the most out of this emerging technology, Lidar?

A game-changer in the making? Given that lidar is an emerging technology, there are a lot of unknowns. But one thing is clear: This innovation has the potential to change our world as we know it. Let’s explore what you need to know about this innovative technology and why you should be excited about its future applications in Architecture.

Although this technology has been around for a while, still a lot of us don’t know exactly what lidar is and how it actually works. The word lidar itself comes from light detection and ranging, which is the technique of measuring the distance to an object by illuminating that object with pulses of laser light. The reflected laser light is then captured and analyzed to determine the distance.

First used in meteorology, it wasn’t until 20 years later that lidar was introduced as a remote sensing technology for land surveys. Nowadays, this emerging technology is capable of reading distances of 15m from the iPhone in your pocket with relatively good accuracy.

Lidar is a powerful tool that can collect data to create detailed 3-D representations. It can also be used for vegetation studies and hydrology, as well as land surveys, mapping and surveying (where it’s commonly referred to as laser scanning). Scientists have found uses for lidar in archaeology, where it’s often used to create 3-D models of archaeological landscapes. More recently, this emerging technology has been put to use in autonomous vehicles, which can be equipped with lidar sensors to increase safety and driver response time.

As Architects, our main use of Lidar is for measuring and recording spaces and structures. Since Lidar measures the distance between object and the sensor in your camera it can be used to recreate spaces and objects in 3d. Scanning the object to a mesh then using the imaging technology to create high-resolution textures of that mesh.

This is done by firing laser pulses from the lidar to an object and recording the time it takes for these laser pulses to be reflected back. The time difference is then used to calculate the distance between the object and the lidar device’s sensors.

Using this tech Architects are able to map out spaces, model, and analyze the spaces for better understanding. It can be used to create virtual worlds using computer models to design buildings or even visualize detailed topological maps of structures. Lidar’s applications are vast and changing the way architects are working.

We all have our own versions of the future, filled up with lavish predictions about what will be better than anything else we’ve ever seen. We imagine flying cars and teleportation devices, solar-powered cities and underwater metropolises. Or maybe you’re more realistic and simply want to see how much faster your phone will be ten years from now. The point is that it doesn’t take an advanced degree in technological forecasting to come up with some pretty cool ideas about where our world is headed.

It’s impossible not to be both fascinated and concerned about innovations that can make our lives easier, but also create potential disruptions that could have dramatic impacts on employment, sustainability, and even privacy.

It has been used for architecture studies in order to uncover structural and spatial characteristics such as building footprint, the volume of space, room heights, columns, decorative panels, or other surface materials.

Lidar gives architects the ability to analyze structures in three dimensions; it can also be used to detect hidden spaces within the building that may not be visible on standard two-dimensional architectural plans.

The data collected by a simple handheld scanner is usually sufficient for smaller-scale studies or projects. The larger, more powerful scanners are known as terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) and they can scan entire city blocks in short amounts of time. TLS has become an essential tool in urban planning and architecture because it is faster than traditional architectural surveys and the results are very precise. Lidar data can be used to create photorealistic models of existing buildings or structures that can be analyzed from all angles — including those that are hard to access like rooftops and underground spaces — without the need to touch, build, alter or otherwise disrupt a site for inspection purposes. This allows architects and urban planners to see how their designs will impact real-world conditions as well as how they interact with the environment around them.

We need to take a closer look at this cutting-edge innovation and what it means for our future.

It is not possible to anticipate the future of lidar technology, but there are a few guidelines that we can follow to make the most out of it. We need to carefully study the data that it had extracted in order to understand how we can use it. When we acquire important information and insights from our scans, we must put them into action as soon as possible.

Lidar continues to be a game-changer because it allows us to create scaled digital twins of our buildings and spaces. We need to identify its potential and focus on maximizing this technology’s efficiency for the benefit of the design community.

The power of lidar is not in the tool itself but in our ability to turn a lot of data into something meaningful. It’s up to us to extract valuable information and find ways to apply it so that we can design better buildings.

Doing this will require us to change our approach towards design projects as well as the way we handle data collection. Processes must be automated and simplified with clear-cut goals and objectives that guide each step of the way. We need systems that are tailor-made for architecture studies as well as digital design workflows. Collected data needs further processing using specialized software; after all, it is easy to collect a bunch of raw data, much harder to make use of it.

With all of that said, Lidar technology is a game-changer in the making. It has proven useful even at such an early stage because it allows designers to combine their use of data captured in the field with their spatial concepts to deliver better designs for people.

The future applications of lidar technology will undoubtedly be more exciting than we can imagine now if this emerging innovation continues down its current trajectory!

I’m an Architect. My favorite thing to do is create stories through architectural design. Founder of Whitewash Studio architecture firm in Atlanta, GA.