Since I studied Geodesy and got deep into technology at ETH Zurich, the idea I’ve always been most intrigued by is how technology continuously evolves. When I then moved from academia to the industry to become a project manager for sophisticated metrology instruments, my fascination with advanced technical concepts continued and we started to push technology further, beyond its known limits. I’ve watched our industry continuously develop more powerful technology, maybe even beyond what it should have.
I’m the first person to promote the advancement of technology, but even I’ve seen how this obsession across our industry has been misconstrued into the notion that, the more difficult to operate, the more superior the technology. This has left countless professionals behind and raised the barriers of entry into our profession to sometimes insurmountable proportions. Harder does not equal better.
Moving from exclusive to inclusive
For the past few years across the industry, we’ve begun to hear the term “democratising technology”. Simpler operations and intuitive devices are disrupting the industry and are, quite frankly, preferred. They not only bring more efficiency, but they also improve the quality of the whole work.
A key area where we’ve seen this democratisation is in the field of reality capture, and laser scanning in particular. What used to be large, exclusive, purpose-specific platforms are transforming into small, inclusive, all-encompassing pieces. This technology was once limited to only highly-educated professionals, but today it’s moving from the pure professional expert arena to a must-have for anyone with imagination and desire to explore new possibilities.
Disruption can be challenging, but without it, nothing advances. Without change, we would all be still be surveying with a theodolite such as a T2, or levelling with optical levels. A new mindset is needed to see the benefit in change. As technology developers, like Hexagon, move forward democratising technology, we will see more and more devices become smaller, lighter, more intuitive and operational at the single push of a button – making the same complex, accurate outputs possible within seconds.
With this change, laser scanning becomes more accessible to those professionals who have historically been barred from entry due to technicality and expense. Architects, designers and construction professionals are discovering BIM and other tools to improve work and bring about better communities. Movie set designers and special effects artists are discovering 3D reality capture. The possibilities are limitless when we make technology available to all – instead of just a few – and help them realise the potential of simplicity.
Opening digital transformation to everyone – now that’s shaping smart change.
Burkhard Boeckem, Chief Technology Officer of Hexagon Geosystems, has been with Hexagon since 2001. Starting as a project manager for sophisticated metrology instruments, he eventually worked his way up to the manager of R&D where he led the creation of new laser products, various new technologies and software development. Boeckem holds a Master of Science in Geodesy from the University of Bonn in Germany, and a PhD from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), where he was awarded the ETH Medal for his thesis in geodesy. Follow him at @BurkhardBoeckem