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Trimble Clarity project reader and viewer in the Cloud

Trimble Clarity is now available as a web-based application that allows you to visualize any geospatial data from point clouds to models and eventually line work, polygons and shape files.

With Trimble Clarity, the visualization and navigation of 3D data should be simplified. With this major update going in the cloud, Trimble Clarity enables geospatial professionals to view, use and share 3D point cloud data, models and meshes with engineers, architects, city planners and other project stakeholders via a web browser. It can be viewed on desktop and mobile devices. Trimble Clarity now features cloud integration including Trimble Connect, Dropbox and Google Drive so users can easily log in and view data directly from where it is already stored.

Trimble Clarity is a browser-based viewer for point cloud and 3D model data.
Trimble Clarity is a browser-based viewer for point cloud and 3D model data.

While this tool is capable of aligning disparate data formats in a visual fashion, it is not a GIS. John Fomby, Product Designer for Trimble explains: “The idea is that it allows you to simply share your data with your customers. It is meant to focus on vizualisation and not the complexities. As though it might look a lot like Google Earth, that’s done on purpose. If you can use Google Earth, then you can use Clarity. It should be that simple”.

Reader and viewer

During a short demo, we see different pins on the screen. Fomby: “These are all projects that a company would make. So, instead of seeing your data in files and folders you can just scan it. You see it. If you happen to ‘sort of’ know your location, you can do your search”. He proceeds showing a demo of the Westminster area in the UK. There’s a drone scan, a steel structure scan and a SketchUp model. “We are source data-agnostic, we only need to recognize the file format.” Trimble Clarity supports data from Trimble products, such as the Trimble SX10 Scanning Total Station, Trimble TX Series 3D scanners and Trimble MX9 Mobile Mapping System, as well as data from non-Trimble sources, making it useful for any organization that captures 3D data. There is support for 3D point cloud, imagery and mesh model formats, including: .las/.laz/.e57/.skp/.obj.

Once you're logged in, you can import your point cloud data (.las, .laz, .e57) and 3D models (.skp, .obj) associated with your project. Then you can generate links (public or private) to share this project.
Once you’re logged in, you can import your point cloud data (.las, .laz, .e57) and 3D models (.skp, .obj) associated with your project. Then you can generate links (public or private) to share this project.

Basically, Trimble Clarity works both as a data reader and a viewer. “It works in the same way on your phone and tablet as it does in your office. So you could be out on the site and look at what you want to inspect”, says Fomby. “It is showing this steel structure and the SketchUp model, right? The idea is not to be an engineering level tool. It’s to give people a way to communicate about things that they should be looking out for in the field.”

Reality augmented

By viewing the 3D data as a location-based project, users are able to more quickly understand the context of the data, significantly improving the ease of use compared to traditional folder-based approaches. Within the ‘augmented’ reality of planned constructions in a ‘real life’ environment, the user can do inspections and reports. John Fomby adds: “We have the ability to set annotations, labels or notes that can be flagged as well as doing measurements. You can go point-to-point, but it’s also possible to go between point cloud and the model to get the differences. To share with Clarity is as simple as setting up your view. Just message whoever you are sharing with. They can see the exact same view and they can do their own measurements. They do not need to sign in, they just click the url. If a password’s required, then they just type in the password.”

Read more: Scan data in the field made easy/ Trimble X7

Project owner versus end-user

During the Trimble Clarity demo, there was a notable difference between views after sharing. John Fomby explains: “The owner of the project is going to have access to different tools. Your stakeholders or who you are sharing it with will not be able to make changes or manipulate the data. They can read the annotations. They can only see it.”

Trimble's office building in Colorado during the construction phase as seen in Trimble Clarity..
Trimble’s office building in Colorado during the construction phase as seen in Trimble Clarity.

The Clarity product range

Within the Clarity range, there are four versions, or tiers. Fomby says: “There ‘s a free version that people can sign up and get access to; then there is ‘Business Level’, which gives you access to forty of your projects. ‘Professional’ will give you a hundred. A project is considered what you see on the screen and how you use the uploads. Then there is an Enterprise version, which can hold up to 500 projects.” Within the Business Level, it does not matter if a project is big or small. “Right. Since we do not store the original data, there is no need for us to charge based on the size.” Trimble does size the tiles, though. “Yes. When we look at something that can be a 200 Gig LAS file, we convert it into tiles then it will down to 2 Gig.” This is seen by Trimble as a complimentary service. “We pull it across and then delete the data. So, the idea is that we want the people to share and see the data, rather than charging them an exorbitant amount of money.”