KELYN3D Customer Q&A: M.A.N. Mapping Services – Urban Mapping with Photogrammetry and Mobile Lidar

Lidar News is interested in how innovative companies and individuals are leveraging advanced technologies for enhanced visualization and improved modeling and design outcomes. For this Q&A Feature, Lidar News Editor Gene Roe interviews M.A.N. Mapping Services Inc Technician Dennis Shimer.

Dennis Shimer, M.A.N. Mapping

Can you please provide a brief overview of your professional background(s) and experience, particularly with 3D technologies and visualization, and/or a brief history of the growth of the company and its use of 3D technology? Please include an idea of the timelines.

It is relevant to understand that I have been working in photogrammetric 3D virtual environments since 1982.  Of course in those days the data was a 9 inch square photograph produced by a camera the size of a file cabinet, and the hardware was several thousand pounds of steel and glass physically recreating the moment of image exposure with spatial and geometric accuracy.  The viewing system was a binocular set of eyepieces that allowed you to enter a virtual space that, because of the resolution and color depth of film, felt like an actual physical place.

I mention this because it is the standard that “old guys” were up against as the transition was made to digital photogrammetry. M.A.N. Mapping Services made our way through several viewing systems as the technology grew, including polarized bezels on monitors, and LCD shutter systems which did an amazing job but never quite returned to that “actually being there” feeling.  

Can you provide an inventory of some of the primary 3D surveying and mapping hardware and software that your company currently uses, as well as any other related products? Please include an idea of the timeline of purchases.

Being a photogrammetric mapping company that specializes in large scale topographic mapping for engineers and surveyors we get by with a limited but powerful toolset.  For over 30 years our primary data collection and processing system has been a version of the VrOne/VrTwo package from Cardinal Systems LLC.  We also try to integrate the best and most active open source image, geomatic, and LiDAR projects into our daily flow.  Because almost every minute of the day is spent in 3D virtual space our hardware has always been driven by the need to maximize the viewing experience. Unlike the early days of the dedicated Silicon Graphics workstations, we can currently get by with reasonably powerful towers and retail video cards.  I currently use Lenovo’s P500 Xeon workstations and the Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 video cards. The problem over the years is that viewing systems tend to move toward obsolescence and waning support by either the operating system or video card drivers.

What attracted you to KELYN3D and the 3D PluraView monitors? Did you look at other products? Why did you choose KELYN and 3D PluraView?

It was that usual struggle to stay ahead of that obsolescence curve that always had us looking at what was available.  VrOne/VrTwo was flexible and mostly agnostic enough to offer several options and it was the Vr help documents that gave me the nod to check PluraView out.  What really intrigued me was that the system appeared to be engineered using commercial off-the-shelf components, nothing that appeared it would eventually age out due to changing hardware and drivers.  When I talked to friends who had been hands on with the screen they raved about the ease of setup and use as well as the viewing experience. For me the fact that it is essentially a purpose-built system using simple dual ( or more ) monitor setup using basic driver and operating system features really appealed to me.

How are you integrating KELYN3D products into your workflows? What were some of the challenges with that? What were some of the best practices and lessons learned?

Classic photogrammetry involves a technician viewing two images simultaneously in 3D and moving around in that space observing and digitizing real world objects.  It is essentially the same as a surveyor navigating the physical world and collecting data on relevant items.  Currently the VrTwo and PluraView systems simply give us a way to enter that virtual world, move around in it naturally and comfortably, and select appropriate information for capture.  The beauty of this transition for us is that since we are just dealing with two normal high quality well calibrated monitors running at full resolution and high refresh rates there haven’t been any challenges.  Once we found an optimal personal physical environment with regard to things like work area and lighting it is just a matter of getting down to task.  

Can you provide a brief overview of two or three of the projects where you made use of KELYN3D and 3D PluraView technology? Can you provide any thoughts on time savings vs. other methods? Any thoughts on return on investment?

To me the key isn’t any feature projects as much as it is the day to day task of sitting down and getting on with a job that I have loved for 40 years.  There was a time when the digital viewing environment was just something to be tolerated and adapted to, and while to many old timers it would sound like hyperbole, the PluraView system brings me closer to the feel of that old physical film than anything I have experienced.  The view feels so realistic that I find myself moving my head in and around the view as if I’m looking at something real.  In our workflow LiDAR point clouds are just another data source which is primarily of value once it is taken to a bare earth state.  Working with those point clouds in such high resolution and color depth in 3D offers the best chance of the most accurate product to then work from.  In all these applications, for us, the real value and speed comes from the comfort and confidence of such a natural view.

What do you see in the future for the use of KELYN3D and 3D PluraView technology on your projects? Are you investigating other advanced technologies that will create new business opportunities?


PluraView 3D Workstation

Our primary hope is that we have found a solution that works long term and holds up to the daily production needs.  Because of the simplicity of the concept and the standard nature of the hardware there is a high confidence level in that aspect.  At the same time most of our clients and partners have very little experience in 3D environments but also spend most of their time measuring, manipulating, and documenting the physical world in geomatic settings.  We are always looking for ways to share our experiences and success with PluraView in ways that may benefit their workflows.

In your experience using KELYN3D and PluraView 3D monitors, please summarize your experience.

In a photogrammetric mapping environment every bit of production data is completely reliant on the ability to view the scene, move around in it, select and collect the data.  While a good deal of the enjoyment I get out of my daily routine is down to Cardinal Systems Vr Suite, the 3D viewing system from PluraView has introduced a whole new level of comfort and ease.  In a sense it just gets out of the way and lets me get into the space I need to be in without worrying about the latest updates from an operating system or driver.

Thank you for the information.

Customer Feature

M.A.NMapping Services is a full-service photogrammetric firm.

  • Overview: M.A.N. Mapping Services strives to produce the highest quality maps for clients. After assessing the needs of a project, the company will tailor a solution that will provide a reliable map that meets or exceeds the accuracy requirements.
  • History: Established in 1987 by Larry Mumford and Bob Niepert, M.A.N. Mapping Services brought together experiences from private industry and the military to establish a photogrammetric mapping firm.
  • Location: Hilliard, Ohio, USA

PluraView 3D Workstation

About PluraView 3D Monitors

KELYN3D is an authorized Distributor for the PluraView 3D Stereoscopic monitors in the USA and Canada markets. The PluraView 3D monitor is manufactured in Germany by Schneider Digital, which has been selling electronics for more than 20 years. Along with the PluraView 3D monitor we also offer high power professional workstations and 3D controllers.

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