Picture taken at Drumbeg Stone Circle 😉
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” Thanks to Faro Technologies
An Interview with Jack Strongitharm
My mind was electric visualising the possibilities of our future ‘everything’ after the heart-warming interview I had with Jack Strongitharm from Faro Technologies. I felt as if I had just interviewed Father Christmas, and all my gifts were coming at once when Jack suggested there was a possibility he would bring Faro’s latest 3D Scanner to trial at the Virtual Heritage Network Conference which will be held in UCC in December.
FARO® is the world’s most trusted source for 3D measurement technology, pioneering technology that permits high-precision 3D measurement, imaging and comparison of parts and compound structures within production and quality assurance processes. Their devices are used for rapid prototyping, documenting large volume spaces or structures in 3D, surveying and construction amongst other things.
This latest laser scanner The FARO FocusS 350, is built for indoor and outdoor use, making it a great ally for our unpredictable, blustery Irish weather.
Jack also spoke of the development of a new hand scanner, Freestyle, specifically for smaller objects, which I immediately thought would be a great tool for the detailed work carried out by the heritage industry.
Our conversation quickly turned to all things virtual reality, VR being a keen interest of mine as I am exploring it as part of my research enquiry for my Masters in Digital Arts and Humanities with UCC.
I was enthralled by the functionality and usability of VR in Faro’s workplace. Jack offering a detailed account of how the intelligence of this technology facilitates employees to visit off-site jobs, virtually. For example if you are based in Cork and you are working on a project in Galway that has already been captured (through 3D scanning technology) you can go there -virtually. Gaming engines and the Oculus Rift make this affordable.
It facilitates ‘connecting’ in creative ways, attracting a new generation of users to understand your project. As Jack explained, “in many ways you can bring them into the physical capturing them in pointcloud”, Faro’s virtual reality software solution. “This enables the user to interact with the information, in new and more exciting, immersive ways.”
Expense is no longer the key issue as in recent years it has become significantly cheaper and more affordable to do this. Commercial software is coming out as standard to support all this technology; it is available from Amazon and your local computer store.
We spoke in-depth about Faro Labs VR Point Cloud, which brings the Virtual Reality experience of the Oculus Rift to the world of Point Clouds. Enabling the user to walk around in 3D Point Clouds generated with the FARO Focus 360 scanner to get a complete new view on the data. I was excited to hear that it won’t be long before it is made possible to put our own data into this application.
In my mind’s eye I could see how this would be, and already is, revolutionary for so many industries.
Jack went on to speak of Faro’s influence on the heritage industry, specifically how the accuracy of the scanning technology is helping in the reconstruction of the heritage sites.
We discussed Faro’s involvement with the education sector, which is quite significant across UK and Europe. It is understandable why Faro is the company of choice as
“the price of our scanner is almost half to our nearest competitor and half the weight as well, so it is something universities can afford. It is almost an admin fee for the software to use.”
Faro offer university bundles for the hardware and software, with the vision of making it easy for any university to get access to. It is also available to hire, making it accessible to all types of consumers.
When I asked about the future of Faro, jack assured me that it lies in the hands of the industry; they can only anticipate demand for offerings such as virtual reality, which they are currently testing with projects such as the laps project. However this is the second time around for virtual reality, and it will need consumers to adopt this technology for it to become sustainable in the market.
I believe one key difference we have this time around is the growth and development within the current ‘digital age’. We have emerged into a technology-rich, digitally literate, open, connected society – open to and searching for all things 3D, and virtual reality. As Jack put it, “we expect everything to be connected, immersive and …. affordable.”
After speaking with Jack I can see how Faro are achieving their mission of ‘enabling mankind to easily and accurately connect the physical world to the virtual world.’ I am counting down the days to the Virtual Heritage Network conference in December to get my hands on their latest 3D scanner, and point cloud software.
As part of my Masters thesis I envision a space that allows students to explore ancient sites, virtually – a sort of virtual culmination of the most beautiful ancient sites globally, I plan on attracting students to this with the ancient charm and magic of ‘story’. With the genius and pioneering quality of companies such as Faro and projects such as the 3d icon project that the European Union are funding, visions like mine are not worlds away after all.
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