By Luke Carothers

Last month, Hexagon hosted HxGN Live Global at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, NV.  Running from June 20-23, 2022, the event exhibited cutting-edge digital reality solutions, bringing together visionaries from around the world to discuss, debate, and experience the autonomous future.  The conference was centered around seven summits– Autonomy & Positioning Reality, Connected Cities and Services, Digital Innovation in Construction, Digital Industrial Facilities, Future of Manufacturing, Intelligent Mining, and Pure Surveying.  In addition to fostering conversation through thought leadership, this event also provided the perfect setting for Hexagon to introduce its new next-generation, ultra-fast Leica BLK360 laser scanner.  

The conference kicked off June 20 with a keynote address from Hexagon’s CEO, Ola Rollen.  Titled “What Stands in the Way Becomes the Way”–inspired by a quote from Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius– Rollen began by talking about the road it took to get here, through all the turmoil of the last three years, and to be together again in person.  Building on the connection to the quote’s meaning, Rollen outlines the problems we are currently facing and lays out a bold plan for overcoming those obstacles.  These obstacles–climate change, unemployment, and energy and food scarcity to name a few–require bold actions such as creating a circular economy.  Rollen posits that advances in digital technology help us take these bold actions, aiding in repetitive tasks and reducing waste.  This vision of the future culminates in Rollen’s final notion: accountability.  His closing words set the stage for everything the bounty of conversations to come: “It’s up to us. Just go out and do it.”

The centerpiece for conversation during the conference was “The Zone”.  With 30,000 square feet of interactive displays, product displays, and demonstrations, this space was an experience in the future of sensor, software, and autonomous solutions.  Part of the interactive experience was paired with a mobile app that allowed attendees to explore specific features of the zone.  One of the more notable technologies on display was Hexagon’s HxDR, which is a cloud-based storage, visualization, and collaboration platform for reality capture and geospatial data.  By seamlessly fusing reality capture data from airborne, ground, and mobile sensors, HxDR creates accurate digital representations of the real world.  Additionally, users can license real-world replicas from Hexagon’s growing collection of towns, cities, and landscapes.

Another prominent technology on display was the Leica BLK2FLY, the world’s first fully integrated, autonomous flying laser scanning sensor.  This product allows users to quickly and easily scan structures and environments accurately and entirely from the air.  The display featured information about how this has found significant applications for the energy sector where it can be used to monitor things like the level of dust on solar panels.

The centerpiece of HxGN Live Global, however, was the release of the new Leica BLK360.  Amid the words “disrupting the disruptor,” the President of Hexagon’s Reality Capture division, Jurgen Mayer, took the stage.  Mayer told the story of BLK360’s development from its first iteration in 2016.  When compared to its first iteration, the new BLK360 still bears a physical resemblance, but its technical capabilities far surpass anything that has come before.   Small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, the new BLK360 certainly holds up to Mayer’s claims of being “supercharged” while also being simple to use.  This new laser scanner is faster than any of its predecessors, capturing a full dome scan–complete with images–in less than 20 seconds.  Outfitted with four, 80-megapixel cameras, the new BLK360 can create “stunningly” photorealistic digital models.  Additionally, because the scanner is outfitted with VIS technology, these scans are automatically combined to make accurate 3D models of structures.  Perhaps most impressively, however, is the simplicity with which this new scanner can be used.  Once mounted, the user can initiate scans using only their smartphone.  The scanner unit has a sensor that indicates when it is ready to scan.  When the user moves the unit, this light will tell the user when it is ready to complete another scan.  With a keen attention to detail, the new BLK360 also has a cord connection port that allows for faster data uploading.

The announcement of the new Leica BLK360 laser scanner was certainly the focal point of excitement, but it was ultimately contextualized in the larger conversations about how digital technology can move us forward.  For the AEC industry, the digital world is a massive part of the planned future.  As more and more firms continue relying on new and emerging digital technologies, the tools with which we plan these new spaces shape the paradigm on how we move forward as an industry.  Echoing Ola Rollen’s sentiments from the opening keynote, these tools enable us to operate with a greater level of accountability.


Luke Carothers is the Editor for Civil + Structural Engineer Media. If you want us to cover your project or want to feature your own article, he can be reached at lcarothers@zweiggroup.com.  

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