Photodocufy Checks the Pulse of the 3D Imaging Industry at SPAR 3D

NCTech iStar Display

Photodocufy Checks the Pulse of the 3D Imaging Industry at SPAR 3D

In May, the annual SPAR 3D convention took place in Anaheim, California. It was co-located this year with digital construction show, AEC-Next. Photodocufy’s Chris El-Araj and Will Tompkinson made the trip to California to check on the latest industry trends.

What is SPAR 3D?

For over a decade, SPAR 3D has been the place to see new 3D imaging technologies, from laser scanners to cameras. Now that tools such as laser scanners are used much more widely than in the early days of SPAR 3D, co-location with AEC-Next gave focus to industry presentations beyond simply discussing technology. With 2,000 people attending, the event included a daily keynote program, multiple presentation tracks, and a large exhibition hall.

Spar 3D convention

An overview of one of the exhibition hall’s corridors (Photo: Twitter @JaredHeinly)

Industry Collaboration and Cool Technology from Photodocufy Partners

The Photodocufy team prides itself on being at the leading edge of building documentation. For over five years, Photodocufy customers have benefitted from our consistent and efficient approach to both the collection of full-coverage documentation photos and delivery of these over a secure online platform that can be accessed across project teams and stakeholders. Photodocufy was one of the first in the industry to adopt 360-degree photos for use in building documentation, and the efficiency gains and confidence of full-coverage provided by these panoramic photos are now well proven.


We have lead the market in providing these services in Canada, and are also now involved with the USIBD (US Institute of Building Documentation). Sharing Photodocufy’s experience, Will sits on the USIBD’s Imagery Standards Committee, where they are defining a framework to help asset owners specify what they need from construction photography services. SPAR 3D provided an excellent opportunity for Will to meet with fellow committee members in person.


Photodocufy has been operating multiple professional-grade NCTech iSTAR cameras for as long as we have been providing photo documentation services. We are excited to see what new opportunities that NCTech now sees for their new mobile iSTAR Pulser 360-degree reality capture system, especially if it has the potential to bring even more efficiency to our workflow.

NCTech iStar Display

A futuristic display for NCTech’s new iSTAR Pulsar mobile 360-degree imaging system (Photo: Twitter: @NC_Tech)

Additional Trends: AR/VR/mixed reality and training protocols at NASA

A noticeable change from previous geomatics and 3D imaging events was the increased use of VR headsets in presentations on stage. This feature was included in both the keynotes and regular conference sessions.

Nasa VR

Alexander Menzies from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab studies a mixed reality representation of a Mars rover vehicle (Photo: Twitter @JeremiahKarp)

One of the most compelling cases presented for using a VR headset was in Alexander Menzies (NASA) keynote. Rather than simply using VR equipment to visualize data from different perspectives, at NASA it is being used to train engineers on how to fit a highly radioactive component to an extra-terrestrial rover vehicle immediately before it is blasted into orbit. Due to obvious safety concerns, this is a task that can only be performed once immediately before launch. The haptic, sense-of-touch capabilities of a mixed-reality environment provide an economic way for engineers to ensure that the procedure is right.

At Photodocufy, the panoramic views provided by our platform already provide an immersive view of existing site conditions, although currently via a traditional desktop computer screen. We are already equipped to collect the data to populate VR/AR and mixed reality environments, and are now learning where the construction community can benefit from having 3D data projected to them using the increasingly available VR tools such as headsets and caves.

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