A quick guide on the latest photogrammetry solutions for industry 4.0-ready businesses in 2023
As real-time 3D (RT3D) production becomes commonplace alongside the rise of extended reality (XR) services, solutions to accelerate and democratise the production of RT3D assets are starting to increase.
RT3D engines such as Unity and Unreal significantly streamline XR production pipelines with easy-to-use tools. Neural Radiance Field (NeRF) and photogrammetry technology is an essential emerging tool which dramatically decreases production pipelines by enabling quick digital twin creation.
Other valuable RT3D tools include artificial intelligence (AI)-powered animations, XR content libraries, and cloud rendering, among others.
What is Photogrammetry?
Photogrammetry/NeRF services enable RT3D content creators to quickly construct a digital twin of a real-world object, place, and person.
A developer then imports the photogrammetry asset into an RT3D engine to use it as a component for many projects, including virtual reality (VR) immersive experiences, augmented reality (AR) objects, and movie VFX sequences.
NeRF-empowered pipelines allow developers to edit their imported assets by adding new textures, lighting, and 3D models – which RT3D engines can predict or enhance with AI algorithms.
NVIDIA Instant NeRF
NVIDIA debuted Instant NeRF in April 2022, and the software creates digital twins based on 2D images of real-world objects, people, and entire environments. Instant NeRF can also fill in details, lighting, and shadows using its integrated AI system.
The platform also uses autonomous AI neural networks to reduce visual errors relating to movement and obstructions. Furthermore, XR designers using NVIDIA GPUs can cut production timelines using Instant NeRFs multi-resolution hash grid encoding.
NVIDIA says its NeRF solution applies to more than just XR design, explaining how it can enhance verticals like automotive, robotics, manufacturing, and architecture.
During the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference 2022, the firm outlined how its NVIDIA DRIVE system already employs Instant NeRF data to train AI models, such as familiarising robots and self-driving cars with real-world environments.
In February 2023, NVIDIA updated its NeRF solution to include new scene builder tools, which allow users to create a complete VR environment from a series of 2D photos with increased time and financial efficiency.
According to NVIDIA, users can now enter a NeRF-rendered space via a VR headset, which presents use cases across industries.
Moreover, in July 2022, NVIDIA partnered with Siemens, a leading industrial and infrastructure firm, to build industrial Metaverse services.
The partnership boosts the deployment of AI-powered digital twins via Siemens’ Xcelerator tool by collaborating with NVIDIA’s Omniverse 3D design and NeRF platforms.
The move enables Siemens and NVIDIA to create an industrial Metaverse service using the former’s “physics-based digital models” and the latter’s real-time AI immersive content generation tools.
Epic Games: Reality Scan
In 2021, Epic Games acquired photogrammetry solutions provider Capturing Reality, with plans to integrate the firm’s digital twin production tools into the Unreal Engine.
Epic Games introduced Reality Scan as a limited beta the following April, enabling XR designers to create digital twins from within the Unreal Engine design suite.
Unreal Engine’s user-friendly NeRF software allows users to create high-quality digital twins with their phone cameras using a sister application. The Reality Scan smartphone service employs AR visualisations and feedback to reduce visual errors.
Additionally, Unreal gets help from Quixel to increase the efficiency of XR productions by offering a deep RT3D asset library. Reality Scan also uses Sketchfab’s cloud service to publish, share, and sell RT3D content.
Google first introduced RawNeRF in 2020 as an automated photogrammetry tool that can simulate the real-world lighting of a scanned object.
To create a digital twin of a real-world object, an XR designer must photograph the asset from various angles. From there, the software combines the 2D images to create a 3D digital twin of the object, and then RawNeRF uses AI algorithms to predict the asset’s lighting.
Additionally, Google’s service lets an XR designer add post-processing elements to their digital twin, including focus, dynamic ranges, and tone mapping.
Google uses the RawNeRF platform and data to power its immersive maps and 3D street view services.
Matterport is a digital twin and photogrammetry leader; the firm is experienced in the field, working with major partners such as Meta to expand photogrammetry solutions to new use cases.
The firm offers photogrammetry products to manufacturing, realty, and retail firms to help leverage enterprise-grade digital twins.
Matterport also offers a broad photogrammetry hardware portfolio. The firm’s most recent product, the Pro3 Camera, accelerates digital twin creation for enterprise, enabling a firm to digitise an office or real estate environment.
Regarding the debut of the Pro3 Camera, RJ Pittman, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Matterport, said,
Our new Pro3 camera and cloud platform create some of the world’s most accurate, immersive and stunning digital twins. The opportunity has never been greater for companies to embrace the power of Matterport digital twins to transform their business.
Moreover, on the consumer side, Matterport has a smartphone application that allows users of all technical levels to create a digital twin of their home or chosen space.
The Verdict, More than Design
RT3D designers and developers are not the only ones using NeRF and photogrammetry solutions. Many XR-ready businesses employ the technology to start digital transformation journeys with the new industry 4.0 tool.
For example, in May 2022, Optelos debuted a drone aerial inspection service that uses photogrammetry technology to create digital twins of frontline environments such as construction sites.
Sony is also empowering the emerging industry 4.0 landscape with drone-based photogrammetry solutions. The international electronics firm entered the enterprise XR marketplace with help from SkyFish, putting Sony Alpha cameras on drones to enable high-quality autonomous data of frontline workplaces.
NeRF and photogrammetry solutions present many opportunities for XR designers and industry 4.0-ready workplaces. Combined with increasingly easy-to-use and low-barrier RT3D engines, the ability for both parties to harness the technology will only increase with more updates, products, and software.