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  The American Surveyor     

Bentley Makes Point Clouds Valuable Across Full Infrastructure Lifecycle Through Acquisition of Pointools Ltd Print E-mail
Written by Bentley   
Tuesday, 08 November 2011

New Fundamental Data Type to Be Leveraged by ProjectWise and AssetWise 

Amsterdam, Netherlands – Be Inspired: Thought Leadership in Infrastructure and SPAR Europe – Nov. 8, 2011 – Bentley Systems, Incorporated, the leading company dedicated to providing comprehensive software solutions for sustaining infrastructure, today announced that it has acquired U.K.-based Pointools Ltd, the leading hardware-neutral provider of point cloud software technology, in order to integrate point cloud processing in innovative ways throughout its product portfolio. Point cloud inclusion supports Bentley’s commitment to advance information mobility with integrity across design and operational workflows. Point cloud scanning devices are fast becoming commonplace, so images are now cost-effective to capture, but have served only for temporary and task-specific purposes because the scale of the data files overwhelms both storage and query accessibility. Now that Bentley is uniquely overcoming these challenges, point clouds, as a fundamental data type, can usefully serve the function of an “as-operated” 3D model for every infrastructure asset.
Through its acquisition of Pointools, Bentley is able to go beyond embedding the powerful Vortex engine in MicroStation, to assimilate point cloud processing and data management through the ProjectWise and AssetWise platforms, extending point cloud value through all Bentley solutions, applications, and workflows. At the same time, with the introduction of the V8i (SELECTseries 3) upgrade, the Bentley Descartes image management software now becomes the leading information modeling environment for advanced 3D image and point cloud editing and processing. By eliminating point cloud distribution and adoption obstacles through i-models and ProjectWise, Bentley’s project team collaboration and work-sharing platform, “hands-on” information mobility can now be delivered and secured from design to construction and operations – and back again for reuse in rehabilitation, upgrade, and retrofit workflows.
As Bhupinder Singh, senior vice president, Bentley Software, explained, “With Pointools, we have developed a breakthrough capability – unlocking the value of the gigabytes or even terabytes of point cloud data – to surmount the ‘big data’ problem of point cloud users. A unique new ProjectWise capability will stream on-demand to Bentley applications only the subset of point cloud data being viewed or queried. This functionality is what has been needed to allow point clouds to fulfill their potential as an intrinsic, fundamental data type in information modeling workflows.
“A software generation ago, through Bentley Descartes, we delivered comparable innovations to make large 2D raster image processing feasible for infrastructure engineering workflows. Combined with the ‘delta file transfer’ functionality already in ProjectWise, Bentley will now more comprehensively enable collaborative work sharing. A new ProjectWise point cloud management and streaming service will be introduced before the end of the year. With our acquisition of Pointools, its innovative technology, and added in-depth knowledge of point clouds, watch for additional pioneering capabilities.”
Commenting on the acquisition, Tom Greaves, managing director, SPAR Point Group, said, “Acquiring Pointools is a coup for Bentley; the timing is excellent. The matchup of hardware-neutral Pointools with Bentley’s open, single platform strategy is going to liberate value beyond design to construction and asset management for Bentley users just as they are demanding and getting more and better data. Point clouds need a seat at the data table with information modeling, GIS data, equipment catalogs, project documents and maintenance databases – Bentley sets a place for point clouds with this acquisition.”
CEO Greg Bentley said, “On behalf of my colleagues at Bentley, I welcome our new team members from Pointools. We look forward to enabling our users to benefit from the growing potential value of point clouds captured by ever-advancing scanning technology. Going forward, point clouds need no longer be throwaways, and, importantly, owner-operators can be supported by ‘as-operated’ 3D models. This is a key contribution to information mobility with integrity for better-performing, safer, and resilient infrastructure.”
Added Faraz Ravi, Pointools co-founder, “My colleagues and I are very excited about joining the Bentley team at a time when infrastructure professionals are quickly recognizing the tremendous value of point cloud data and adopting it across a wide range of workflows. In my new role at Bentley I look forward to helping realize the vision of powering next-generation point cloud workflows throughout the Bentley portfolio of products.”
Pointools’ super-fast Vortex engine is ideally suited to the demanding requirements of architectural, engineering, and construction projects due to its unrivalled ability to handle the very largest point cloud datasets, comprising billions of points, and from virtually every scanning source. The Pointools POD file format retains key information pertaining to the origin of the point cloud data (provenance) including scanner type, original scan file name, scan date, scan location, and scan keywords. This information can be indexed and searched to more quickly locate models when managed, referenced, and maintained in Bentley’s ProjectWise collaboration and work-sharing platform.
Bentley Descartes V8i (SELECTseries 3)
Bentley’s commitment to point clouds as a fundamental data type is further demonstrated in the advanced point cloud processing and management capabilities featured in the upcoming release of Bentley Descartes V8i (SELECTseries 3). These innovations, which speed point cloud workflows and reduce costs, are being introduced this week to attendees at Be Inspired. Bentley Descartes V8i (SELECTseries 3) will accordingly be of interest to a wide range of disciplines – from plant designers to surveyors, urban planners, civil engineers, and more. The point cloud workflows that are possible with the new release include innovative visualization, classification editing, tiled export, and object extraction, simplifying the challenges of working with and sharing point cloud datasets with billions of points. For additional information about Bentley Descartes V8i (SELECTseries 3), visit www.bentley.com/Descartes. Watch for additional news of Bentley Descartes’ many point cloud innovations throughout 2012.
Ascentage Group
Ascentage Group, LLC, a business development firm, acted as advisors to Pointools Ltd regarding the transaction.
For additional information about Pointools, visit www.Bentley.com/Pointools.
About Be Inspired: Thought Leadership in Infrastructure
The world’s leading practitioners have gathered this week at Be Inspired, Bentley’s premier thought leadership and networking event, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. They will share the best practices behind the successful realization of their current projects and explore new ways to respond to the challenges driving today’s business. Also in attendance are 80 journalists from around the world, who additionally participated in a special media briefing on November 7.
Be Inspired is an intimate, invitation-only event featuring presentations by the Be Inspired Awards finalists as well as executive roundtables focusing on critical issues in business, technology, and practice facing infrastructure professionals around the world. It culminates with an awards ceremony recognizing outstanding achievement and innovation in infrastructure design, construction, and operations by winners selected from 57 project finalists by five independent panels of jurors. In total, nominations from 270 organizations in 42 countries were submitted in this year’s awards program.
This annual event provides a unique forum for senior-level executives to learn about the innovations driving the development and operations of the world’s top infrastructure projects. It also enables them to engage with other industry leaders in interactive discussions on topics of importance to the business of sustaining infrastructure. For additional information about the Be Inspired: Thought Leadership in Infrastructure event, visit www.bentley.com/BeInspired.
Follow us on Twitter: @BentleySystems. Use the hashtag #BeIn2011 to join the conversation about Be Inspired.
About Bentley Systems, Incorporated
Bentley is the global leader dedicated to providing architects, engineers, geospatial professionals, constructors, and owner-operators with comprehensive software solutions for sustaining infrastructure. Bentley’s mission is to empower its users to leverage information modeling through integrated projects for high-performing intelligent infrastructure. Its solutions encompass the MicroStation platform for infrastructure design and modeling, the ProjectWise platform for infrastructure project team collaboration and work sharing, and the AssetWise platform for infrastructure asset operations – all supporting a broad portfolio of interoperable applications and complemented by worldwide professional services. Founded in 1984, Bentley has grown to nearly 3,000 colleagues in more than 45 countries and $500 million in annual revenues. Since 2001, the company has invested more than $1 billion in research, development, and acquisitions.

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