Point clouds themselves can be the end product of laser scanning, allowing viewing and manipulation of the dataset in 3D and accurate measurements to be taken directly. They can also be integrated with traditional survey and GPS data. However, much more can be derived. Processing allows architectural drawings to be produced (plans and cross-sections etc.). By mapping high-resolution photographs onto the processed point cloud photo-realistic virtual reality images and visualisations can be generated. Physical models can now be printed directly from 3D data derived from laser scanning, allowing accurate replication of artefacts without the deleterious effect of any matrix contact process.
For the heritage sector, there are a number of immediate uses for this 3D data:
- Accurate survey record (historic buildings and archaeological sites)
- Cultural heritage management
- Conservation and maintenance
- Condition monitoring of sites at risk
- Coastal erosion monitoring and terrain modelling
- Virtual tourism
- Virtual access to inaccessible places
- Education, interpretation and understanding
- Recording and replication of small objects
3D scanning data can be used as a basis for the production of accurate and realistic 3D models and visualisations. This is a particularly important growth area in Scotland. Representations of historic landscapes, buildings or archaeological sites can be modelled according to 3D scan data, historical records, photos etc., allowing virtual reconstructions to be generated. There is significant potential for using this data as an interactive education tool.