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A Faro laser scanner being used to scan a factory hall.

A Faro laser scanner being used to scan a factory hall.

Faro cloud service eases 3D data sharing

March 2020

Faro’s latest release of its Scene WebShare Cloud Service makes it possible for the first time to share 3D data easily and quickly and has the potential to revolutionise existing collaboration workflows, says the expert in 3D measurement, imaging and realisation technology.

The new release of its cloud service addresses some of the major issues faced when sharing 3D data among the many project participants. 

According to Faro, 3D data of as-builts are captured quickly with today’s 3D technology. The most common methods are terrestrial laser scanners, mobile mapping systems or drones equipped with cameras, from whose images 3D point clouds are obtained photogrammetrically.

Exploring a 3D view in WebShare Cloud.

Exploring a 3D view in WebShare Cloud.

“Reality data capture has become so fast and easy that 3D data can be used for quality control of construction work on-site or even for the steering of automobiles,” comments Joerg Braunes, product manager at Faro.

However, collaborating, managing, updating and sharing 3D via data point clouds and entire projects is still difficult, as individual 3D point clouds can reach gigabytes in size, he points out.

Currently, data is distributed on USB sticks, hard drives or with the help of services such as Box and Dropbox. “These options can be time-consuming, costly and error-prone distribution channels that require the recipient to have software to display and process point clouds.

“The problems that arise in this context are enormous because they are unmanageable, since hundreds of gigabytes of digital twins of completed buildings or large factories must be kept up to date by many project participants,” Braunes emphasises. 

Faro as a manufacturer of laser scanners and evaluation software, is well aware of the problem, he says, and has been offering a simple and fast solution for years with Scene WebShare Cloud.

In February, Faro launched a new release of its cloud service, Scene WebShare Cloud, where point cloud projects of any size can be shared worldwide. The source of the 3D point clouds is irrelevant as point clouds captured from various data sources of almost all vendors are supported, he explains. Once captured, the data from the different sources are combined into one project and uploaded to WebShare Cloud.  Existing projects can be enhanced and updated with new point clouds.

“WebShare Cloud users only need a web browser to view and explore the point cloud projects. Current browsers can also be used to control VR (virtual reality) devices. Users can make evaluations and measurements in the projects, add comments, save everything and share it with stakeholders,” Braunes explains.


Defining the area of interest for downloading the 3D data from Webshare Cloud.

Defining the area of interest for downloading the 3D data from Webshare Cloud.

New features 

The most important feature of the new release is its ability to expand in completely new workflows, and not just in the AEC (architectural, engineering and construction) industries. The feature export provides freely definable areas of interest from the hosted Webshare Cloud project and downloaded data as point clouds in standard formats such as *.rcp, *.pod, *.xyz and *.e57.

“This is the first time a simple, fast, worldwide sharing of actual 3D point clouds and entire projects is possible. The direct import of all data in the Autodesk and Bentley Pointools portfolio or any other CAD and BIM software works without conversion breakdowns.

“The ability to view huge point cloud projects without special software, to visit construction sites virtually without effort, and to take measurements without CAD software in a browser has excited many of our customers,” says Braunes. “But the new functions are real game changers, they allow for the first time an easy, fast, reliable and worldwide sharing of actual 3D data.”

Citing an example, he says: “The stair builder downloads the millimetre-precise point clouds of the staircase shell, the kitchen craftsman downloads the kitchen, the builder of the heating systems downloads the entire building. Everyone can access the up-to-date data set and everyone has the same level of information they use corresponding to the data that is important to their unique job. The type and size of the projects – be it an industrial plant, a high-rise building or a historic villa – the number of people involved or their worldwide location, none of this matters at all.”

Elaborating on how the service works, he says, the customer rents storage capacity and a subdomain from Faro at a fixed price. “There are no additional costs for traffic. With the help of a sophisticated project and rights management, the Faro customer creates any number of projects. He/she assigns rights to create, update and manage projects to stakeholders and users and defines how projects are used with customised rights. These users do not need their own WebShare Cloud account. The use of the service is completely free,” Braunes explains.

Evaluating the downloaded 3D data in Revit.

Evaluating the downloaded 3D data in Revit.

If the users have been given the right to create projects themselves or update existing ones, they need Scene or the free Scene LT. All other users only need a current web browser. With this, all functions of Webshare Cloud are available to them. 

Scene WebShare Cloud can be used in many different ways. In WebShare Cloud, data of high-rise buildings and industrial plants, historical castles and natural monuments can be found, among other applications.

Among its many users, WebShare Cloud is utilised by general contractors to organise tenders, plan and set up construction sites, and for quality control of construction work; suppliers access the millimetre-accurate up-to-date WebShare data for high-precision prefabrication; plant engineers use the data to plan modifications to oil rigs and car factories; and facility management companies use functions such as the export of true-to-scale orthophotos for easy creation of floor plans, sections and façade plans and use the data to manage their projects.


Cross-platform collaboration

Scene WebShare Cloud can be directly integrated into the Autodesk construction management tool BIM 360 and Nemetschek’s Allplan Bimplus. “Every point of view in WebShare Cloud is accessible from outside, sharing its unique URL. Partners receiving the URL only need to copy and paste it into the hyperlinks of any system or embed the specific Scene WebShare Cloud view as an iFrame into online software tools for BIM, construction, facility and asset management.

“All WebShare Cloud users benefit from the certainty that all project participants have the same up-to-date data,” he adds.

Faro develops Scene WebShare Cloud in close cooperation with customers, who are innovation drivers in their own industries. This guarantees permanent, meaningful further development. The new export function was inspired and responds to customers’ demands and is a real game-changer from their and Faro’s point of view, according to Braunes.

Public sample projects and more information about WebShare Cloud are available at https://websharecloud.com.  

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