Tablets - the surveying devices of the future?

Tablets scanning function in the expert test

With a LiDAR sensor integrated in the camera module, the latest models of the iPhone Pro and iPad Pro can be used as 3D laser scanners. Are these the surveying devices of the future? Are the results suitable for professional applications in surveying and geoinformatics? Answers to this question are to be found in a final thesis in the Master's degree programme in Surveying, in which the laser scanning function of an iPad Pro is being intensively tested.

To improve the augmented reality functions, Apple has installed a LiDAR scanner in the latest models of the iPhone Pro and iPad Pro. Another function enabled by the LiDAR scanner is 3D scanning. With the help of scanning apps from the app store, you can capture objects three-dimensionally with the iPhone or iPad, similar to a mobile laser scanner. The meshing and 3D modeling of the point cloud takes place in real time during the scan. Photos taken during the scan are used to colorize the 3D model.

In a final thesis in the Master's degree program in surveying, it will be investigated whether iPhone and iPad can be used for various 3D scanning tasks as a cost-effective alternative to terrestrial or mobile laser scanners. For this purpose, different task areas of 3D laser scanning will be considered and objects of investigation will be chosen for the respective areas. The objects of investigation will be recorded with an iPad Pro (5th generation) and the resulting point clouds and dimensions will be compared with real values.

Similar topics are also being investigated in current bachelor theses in the surveying and geoinformatics course. As a result of these theses, one will get an overview of the performance limits of these mobile, low-cost laser scanners. However, the opportunities of these "surveying devices for all" will also become clear.

Publish date: 09. December 2021 By Jörg Hepperle ()