February 12, 2007
Trimble’s VX Spatial Station
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to GISWeekly! In a discussion this week with Trimble’s Omar Soubra, Portfolio Manager, for Spatial Imaging, he talked about Trimble’s new portfolio called Spatial Imaging. Newly announced from this portfolio is the Trimble VX Spatial Station, a ground-based sensor that is an advanced positioning system combining optical, 3D scanning and video capabilities, utilizing Trimble VISION(TM) technology, to measure objects in 3D to produce 2D and 3D data sets for spatial imaging projects. Read about it in this week’s Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Top News of the Week, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Financials, People, New Products, Around the Web and Events Calendar.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Trimble’s VX Spatial Station

by Susan Smith

In a discussion this week with Trimble’s Omar Soubra, Portfolio Manager, for Spatial Imaging, he talked about Trimble’s new portfolio called Spatial Imaging. Newly announced from this portfolio is the Trimble VX Spatial Station, a ground-based sensor that is an advanced positioning system combining optical, 3D scanning and video capabilities, utilizing Trimble VISION(TM) technology, to measure objects in 3D to produce 2D and 3D data sets for spatial imaging projects.

“Trimble has been great at developing solutions for accurate positioning, developing GPS, GNSS receivers, Total Stations, and this will be focused on a new portfolio that we call ‘Integrated Survey.’ The Trimble VS Spatial Station fits into the Spatial Imaging segment in which we already have the Trimble VX which is a 3D scanner,” explained Soubra. “We have seen a lot of interest in the past few years in 3D scanning technology.”

The only way to capture comprehensive eye-level views is from the ground, said Soubra.

The Trimble VX Spatial Station makes it possible for users to blend extremely accurate ground-based information with airborne data to provide comprehensive datasets for use in the geospatial information industry.

Trimble had become aware through their customer, Sanborn, who had acquired Trimble’s 3D scanners, that there was a need for views from the terrestrial from the ground base, as well as the airborne information. “We began to investigate the market, and one of the key things we discovered was that this terrestrial information was missing. We decided to develop an instrument that would fulfill this need, so that’s why in Trimble VX we integrated a technology called Trimble VISION which is the mix of the pictures and the positioning information combined in one single instrument.”

According to Soubra, Trimble VX is a new market vision, bringing the terrestrial accuracy of their station imaging to geospatial data. “I love looking at Google Earth pictures trying to see what those shapes represent. We took some pictures with Trimble VX of a bridge that we couldn’t identify clearly on Google Earth, so there was a great example of getting the ground view to get those data.”

The customers of the survey division of Trimble are especially excited about this. “For the surveyors, providing information to their customers can sometimes be difficult.,” noted Soubra. “2D drawings and points may be sometimes be difficult to understand. If you put points and coordinates into an excel spreadsheet, it is hard to define what you have. The Trimble VX is an instrument that the surveyors understand is also a great way for us to have them share deliverables and pictures and point cloud information with their customers.”

Trimble VX Spatial Station works a bit like a 3D scanner, but it has a lot of the functionality from the Total Station too, so traditional surveyors will find it familiar. Total Station is an optical instrument that you set up over a point on the ground, and start measuring from there. It provides accurate information. The Trimble VX Spatial Station has a video camera and a laser beam that measures in the way of a 3D scanner, but at the same time captures the position of objects, and the shapes of them. “You are able to capture the camera information. so you have a mix of a new type of deliverable which is a picture with a point cloud coming from a 3D scanner, to provide to your
customers. It’s a positioning instrument that provides the surface measurements and shapes very quickly.”

The level of positional accuracy is within a centimeter, and you can also get lower accuracy using optical positioning.

Pricing is around $70,000.

According to the press release, the Trimble VX Spatial Station includes patented Trimble MagDrive(TM) servos, which spin the instrument with speed and agility -- more than 100 degrees per second -- to provide ultra-smooth control for precision pointing. The instrument's efficient movement ensures minimal waiting time between measurements.

The Trimble VX Spatial Station also offers Trimble VISION technology, providing video streaming and image capturing capabilities. The technology streams digital images of a job site through a choice of data collection software, including the Trimble Survey Controller(TM), Survey Pro(TM) or Trimble Survey Manager(TM) software running on the Trimble CU or TSC2(TM) data controller, which saves time while measuring. Users can select target points for measuring by tapping the controller's touch screen at the appropriate points in the video stream. This capability provides significantly improved efficiency for remote or coarse aiming measurements while using a crew's existing workflow.

The Trimble VX Spatial Station is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2007 through Trimble's survey distribution partners.

Top News of the Week

ESRI's recently released ArcGIS 9.2 software is a powerful developer technology designed to support service-oriented architecture (SOA) systems. SOA focuses on an approach that supports heterogeneous, loosely coupled services. ArcGIS supports this environment by providing a complete set of spatial tools for the desktop, server, mobile devices, and Web that is combined with robust Application Development Frameworks (ADF) for .NET and Java.

LocatioNet Systems Ltd., a provider of mobile mapping and location applications, announced that it has launched 'amAze', a new free mobile mapping, navigation and local search solution for regular mass-market mobile phones.

amAze is the first mapping and navigation application of its kind for mobile phones and it is totally free to use for consumers. The application provides any regular, Java-enabled mobile phone with mapping, navigation and local search information to anywhere in Central and Western Europe and North America. An additional voice-guided navigation feature can be accessed using any Bluetooth GPS device.


AirPhotoUSA, a DigitalGlobe company, and a leading provider of aerial information solutions, announced that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has purchased AirPhotoUSA high-resolution aerial photography. This is the fourth USGS contract awarded to AirPhotoUSA for off-the-shelf aerial imagery and covers 16 urban areas totaling more than 40,000 square miles.

The images will be distributed to Federal Civil agencies and State and Local governments. AirPhotoUSA supplies orthophotography according to USGS's strict standards of resolution and accuracy.

Safe Software®, a BC-based leader in providing spatial ETL (extract, transform and load) tools, and the Integrated Cadastral Information Society (ICIS), announced a joint agreement that will help streamline the sharing of spatial data among ICIS member organizations in British Columbia.

Under the terms of the agreement, ICIS members who purchase Safe Software’s FME® technology will receive FME training at no additional cost, a $1000 value per student.

Training is limited to courses held at Safe Software’s headquarters in Surrey and is based on availability. For more information on Safe Software and FME visit
www.safe.com . ICIS members can register for training on-line
here using promo code "ICIS"

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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.


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