Creating 3D spaces just by using 2D panorama images is possible but tricky. We'll share the major challenges we faced and the solution we came up...
How can we capture 3D space without a 3D scanner? (3/3)
Beamo designed its own indoor mapping system to simplify the computing process during capture using just a smartphone and a 360° camera.
This article is the last part of a weekly series about what it takes to create a digital twin. Today, you will learn how we made it easy for anyone to create digital twins by using smartphones or Beamo pathfinder.
Our previous blog post explored the complications of building a digital twin just by using 2D photography and Beamo’s first success with solving them. But as with a lot of things, the first few attempts are far from perfect and a few tweaks are needed here and there. Beamo was finally able to automate the 3D reconstruction from 2D images, but the processing and computing it needed were not optimized to make it easy for someone to capture larger spaces.
Beamo's Indoor Mapping System
We found out that relying on post-processing each capture point’s location after the survey was not the best solution. We needed to pin down the position as each 2D panorama was taken. As GPS is not accurate indoors and as manual positioning is cumbersome and not scalable, we found a way to create our own indoor mapping system.
Our innovative approach of positioning the captured points by only using your smartphone simplifies the journey to digital transformation. We utilize the smartphone gyro sensor and accelerometer and process the images coming in from the camera to understand how far and to which direction a user has traveled. We also utilize a technology called SLAM (Simultaneous localization and mapping) which picks up the unique features of the surroundings to understand how things are moving through space. All of this is happening locally from the smartphone device which greatly reduces the computing process necessary for creating a digital twin.
We use our own survey kits mainly consisting of a tripod and complementary accessories. The 360° camera is aligned with the smartphone so that the SLAM data correctly captures each 2D panorama’s location.
With SLAM data, we can process 3D reconstruction without having to compare all the feature sets. It's like all the puzzle pieces have their position written on the back and can be put together seamlessly.
Using this method, a digital twin cannot fail during processing and since most of the processing is done onsite, as the capture is done, final results are available in a few minutes, not hours or days.
Beamo Pathfinder - a 3D SLAM dunk
For industrial clients, we needed to provide a more flexible and robust solution for indoor mapping. We also needed a solution that would enable us to map larger indoor and outdoor spaces.
Beamo developed a device based on the Intel Realsense technology: Beamo Pathfinder. This device that can be held in your pocket connects to the 360° camera to replace the different smartphone sensors and expand digital twin creation capabilities. Beamo Pathfinder operates the Beamo application and has improved accuracy, lower power consumption, and better 2D panoramas storage capacity.
Beamo Pathfinder operates using stereoscopic vision principle. It is exactly like any human vision, it uses both of its eyes, also called stereo cameras, to understand how the user moves through space: distance traveled, rotation... Indeed, by comparing the 2 viewpoints coming from the stereo cameras, you can estimate depth and therefore better perform navigation or path tracking. To achieve that, like with the smartphone, V-SLAM or visual odometry is coupled with the IMU sensors (gyroscope and accelerometer) that are measuring the movement of the device. Compared to the smartphone capabilities, Beamo Pathfinder’s cameras and sensors are specialized in performing those tasks and will provide more accurate results.
For Taeyeong Moon, Hardware Engineer at 3i, Beamo Pathfinder is redefining spatial capture standards.
Beamo Pathfinder is a compact device that expands the capabilities of the Beamo solution. It has specialized VSLAM tracker, tracker with dual camera, wide FOV, high sensitivity IMU. Due to these specialized sensors, Beamo Pathfinder has great awareness and endurance regarding sudden movement within all axes, vision change and movement speed. Compared to the smartphone-only based workflow, users can now skip a couple steps (alignment, import time), and can also utilize the full functions of Beamo App at the same time (like tagging while capturing).
Taeyeong Moon, Hardware Engineer at 3i,
Indeed, since path-tracking capabilities are removed from the smartphone, the processing payload is reduced allowing you to use less powerful devices. Beamo Pathfinder can also be attached to any capturing vector like a robot, a car, a drone… It simply provides a more modular approach to indoor and outdoor mapping.
Creating digital twins should not have to necessitate using expensive, complicated equipment like 3D scanners. Beamo makes it simple for anyone to create a 3D space with just a smartphone and a 360° camera.
To make the process even easier, we constantly improve our technology. While constantly improving the accuracy of our SLAM algorithm, we are also developing hardware to provide an optimized capture solution for various environments. Also, extracting true 3D point cloud data from 2D images is just around the corner. We can promise that Beamo will get you on the road to digital transformation in an accessible and scalable way.
If you, like us, are amazed by technology and how it affects the way we interact with people, places, and things, then you’d want to see Beamo in action. It’s cool stuff.