The evolution of a technology industry isn't all that different from the evolution of a popular television show or web site nowadays: People don't tend to watch or visit because they saw and advertisement. They watch or visit because a friend or trusted source told them to. Such is the power of social media, and media in general, in that it makes a person confident to give up some valuable time and take a chance on something.
"Hey, if all my friends are watching, I should, too."
In technology, it's business-related success that's emulated and taken as tacit endorsement: "Hey, if that company says lidar is the only way to go, we should probably give it a shot."
So, when I come across a video like this one, created and posted yesterday by the United States Geological Survey to promote its National Elevation Dataset, I'm thinking airborne lidar, especially, has pretty much made it:
I'm assuming marketing execs at Optech, Leica, and Riegl are rubbing their hands together maniacally: "Lidar is the NED's primary source of new elevation data. It's cost efficient, more accurate, and it captures data points from the earth's surface, to the tops of the features above, and in between."
"Its use goes beyond topographic mapping into other areas of science and to every day life."
"Lidar is essential in making accurate flood maps."
That's just a start! Such great endorsements of the technology from the USGS and FEMA (the U.S.'s Federal Emergency Management Agency). Corporations and the like that take their cues from the federal government, or that are looking to score government contracts, would be folls not to investigate and invest in lidar technology, right?
Along similar veins, a couple of specific companies in our space have gotten nice nods this week.
Allpoint Systems, which makes software for automatic feature recognition, and impressed the crowds at SPAR this year with their remote-controlled scanning robot, has been named a finalist in the Tech 50, which celebrates the best technology firms in the Pittsburgh area. They're up against the likes of Wombat Security Technologies (which makes cyber security software) and Rhiza (a data sharing and visualization firm I don't completely understand). Regardless if they "win," great to see a data-capture company in the mix.
Also, a number of 3D companies have been named to the Marine Technology Report 100, a list of the best companies in the undersea space. 2G Robotics makes robots with underwater laser scanning capabilities for inspection purposes; Blueview Technologies (recently acquired by Teledyne) makes high definition multi-beam sonar; IxBlue has a number of products that create 3D with sonar and inertial navigation units; Optech works in bathymetry; and there may be others on the list in our space I'm simply not familiar with. You can download a pdf of the list here.
Just because I'd seen it recently, here's 2G Robotics' very interesting presentation from SPAR International 2011 comparing underwater laser scanning with sonar and how the two can be used together.
To see a list like that, specific just to a certain vertical market, have so much 3D throughout is highly encouraging. This is technology that's proving effective and is being adopted in rapid fashion. When industry-leading publications hand out endorsements like this, it can be extremely helpful for adoption rates.