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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

NavVis IndoorViewer Upgrade Automatically Renders 360° Immersive Imagery from E57 Point Clouds

November 1st, 2018 by Susan Smith

GISCafe Voice spoke with Lisa Cali, Senior Product Manager, IndoorViewer about NavVis’s latest software upgrade to their web-based application NavVis IndoorViewer. A provider of indoor spatial intelligence technology, NavVis is now able to automatically convert E57 point cloud files into interactive, realistic 360° walkthroughs, with the latest software upgrade to IndoorViewer.

NavVis IndoorViewer Upgrade Automatically Renders 360° Immersive Imagery from E57 Point Clouds. Top photo: E57 point cloud file, captured by a static laser scanner Bottom photo: E57 point cloud file automatically converted into an immersive 360° walkthrough in NavVis IndoorViewer

IndoorViewer is a web-based application that displays realistic digital twins, i.e. a realistic representation of the site, using 360° panoramic images, point clouds and maps generated by 3D scanning devices. Users can move around digital twins of scanned spaces as if they are on site and use the interactive functionality to add, search for and route to geo-tagged information as well as take accurate measurements. The new release was demonstrated at InterGEO in Frankfurt, Germany, in October.

According to company materials, the intuitive user interface and functionality has made NavVis IndoorViewer a valuable deliverable for laser scanning professionals who want to extend the use of point clouds beyond BIM models and building plans to a greater number of building stakeholders who can take advantage of 3D scan data. Those stakeholders working on complex projects or properties, such as manufacturing facilities and construction sites, can use IndoorViewer for  remote access to the site and is used as a platform for collaboration and exchanging information.

NavVis IndoorViewer currently supports third party point cloud files in most standard formats. However, a key component of the immersive experience that NavVis IndoorViewer provides is the 360° panoramic images. The new IndoorViewer feature bridges this gap for structured E57 files by automatically rendering 360° immersive imagery  from E57 point cloud files. This means data collected by terrestrial laser scanners can now also be used to create realistic, immersive 360° walkthroughs that can be published and shared online without the need to download or install software.

The E57 panorama extractor is available as part of a free software upgrade to IndoorViewer subscribers.

Can you tell me about E57 point cloud files and why it is important to be able to convert them into realistic 360° walkthroughs?

Lisa Cali: The E57 file format is commonly used to store post-processed point clouds that have been captured by laser scanning devices. NavVis IndoorViewer has previously supported all standard point cloud formats, but with E57 we’re able to provide the full 3D IndoorViewer experience by generating 360°  images. Converting them into realistic 360° walkthroughs lets users of IndoorViewer move around and interact with a digital twin of the scanned spaces. The 360° immersive images are an important part of providing an intuitive experience because it lets users interact with the scan as if they are on site.  

What is the value of digital twins, which are becoming more widely used?

Lisa Cali: Laser scanning captures incredibly valuable details but point clouds tend to be limited to professionals who are tasked with creating floorplans and BIM models. Making scan data available as a digital twin, which is a realistic representation of the site that combines point clouds and images, means that 3D scan data can be consumed by a broader customer base and that is going to increase demand for this technology.

IndoorViewer is a new generation of software that delivers this valuable scan data as realistic, interactive digital twins. This type of web-based deliverable lets users interact with the scan data as if they were walking around the site, making it far more intuitive.  The cumulative effect is that a much broader customer base can make use of this valuable scan data, not just those that know how to use CAD software.

When you say that IndoorViewer is made available to every user, how much understanding do users need to be able to access the scan data made available?

Lisa Cali: Users can access the scan data by clicking a link and then move around and interact with it using the mouse or basic keyboard commands.

How much time do you figure is saved by having the conversion process to 360° immersive images take place automatically?

Lisa Cali: The algorithm automates the process and creates the 360° image, so in a sense it’s not possible to compare the process to an existing one. You just upload the file but the time really depends on your internet connection and the size of the file.

It drastically reduces the download size for viewing an E57 file, which also saves time, and makes it available to both expert and non-expert users.

Is the E57 panorama extractor the name of the 360° walkthrough capability or another tool?

Lisa Cali: No, it’s the feature that supports the extraction and creation of the 360° image. IndoorViewer visualizes the 360° walkthrough, whether it’s from an E57 file or NavVis M6 scans.

Can you describe this tool?

Lisa Cali: It’s a new feature based on a complex data processing algorithm that automatically renders 360° immersive imagery from E57 point cloud files. Which means that static scans post-processed as E57 files are now fully compatible with NavVis indoorViewer software.

How easy it is for stakeholders to use?

Lisa Cali: You just drag and drop the file and the rest is automatic, so very easy to use.


“Many of our partners using a NavVis indoor mobile mapping system for conventional scanning projects are offering IndoorViewer as an additional deliverable to increase the number of stakeholders who can make use of this data,” said Felix Reinshagen, NavVis CEO.

“To meet the growing demand for extending the use of valuable 3D scan data, we developed a feature that automatically renders 360° immersive images from structured E57 point cloud files. The latest software release brings the full functionality of IndoorViewer to E57 point cloud files and therefore marks an important step towards our goal of making scan data meaningful for every building stakeholder.”

For more information visit the NavVis IndoorViewer website.

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Categories: Big Data, data, disaster relief, field GIS, geospatial, GIS, government, image-delivery software, laser radar, lidar, location based sensor fusion, location based services, location intelligence, mapping, mobile mapping, spatial data, underground mapping

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