Esri and rapidlasso develop joint LiDAR compressor

PRESS RELEASE (April Fools’ Day)
April 1, 2014
rapidlasso GmbH, Gilching, Germany

In a positive spin of events, Esri and rapidlasso are announcing to join forces and together develop a LiDAR compressor for LAS 1.4 in open source avoiding unnecessary format fragmentation. Their new “LASeasy” tool not only compresses but also optimizes LAS files for efficient area-of-interest queries. LASeasy extends the popular LASzip compressor to handle LAS 1.4 content and includes the tiny spatial indexing *.lax files into the *.laz file via Extended Variable Length Records (EVLRs). More importantly, LASeasy provides new features such as optional spatial sorting and precomputed statistics – motivated by Esri – that allow exploiting LiDAR in the cloud.

To minimize disruption in existing workflows, their joint effort uses a clever strategy that capitalizes on the natural “break” in the ASPRS LAS format from version 1.3 to 1.4. LAS files compressed by Esri will automatically be upgraded to the new point types introduced with LAS 1.4 (and be losslessly downgraded on decompression). LiDAR software already supporting LAZ will instantly be able to read all LiDAR produced by Esri with the same DLL update that will be needed to access future compressed LAS 1.4 content – achieving maximum compatibility with minimal disruption for users of ArcGIS, LASzip, and the larger LiDAR community,

Martin Isenburg, chief scientist and CEO of rapidlasso GmbH, was all smiles during the announement. “Yes, I had some hard feelings when hearing about their ‘LAZ clone‘ because our presumed open dialogue suddenly felt so very one-sided,” he said, “So over Martin Luther King weekend I proposed this LAS 1.4 trick as a joint development quoting MLK’s ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope’ and that seemed to resonate with them.” Speaking on the condition of anonymity an executive of Esri’s management added “For a global geospatial player like us it can happen that we do something ‘evil-by-accident’. We occasionally need someone like Martin to poke some good-natured fun at Esri to remind us of our values.”

LASeasy optimizes LAS files by reordering points along an adaptive space-filling curve for efficient LiDAR queries in the cloud. To access the corner of the LiDAR tile only the points shown in blue need to be loaded and decompressed.

LASeasy optimizes LAS files by reordering points along an adaptive space-filling curve for efficient LiDAR queries in the cloud. To access the corner of the LiDAR tile only the points shown in blue need to be loaded and decompressed.

6 thoughts on “Esri and rapidlasso develop joint LiDAR compressor

  1. Our half-true press release on April Fools’ Day made it onto several media outlets: The American Surveyor, Geoconnexion, Professional Surveyor, Spar Point Group, LiDAR News, Geospatial World, Asian Surveying and Mapping, Sensors & Systems, … Not everybody was happy as you can read here, but mostly we received positive comments:

    “That’s excellent news. Glad to hear it!”

    “Fantastic news! I’m very excited to download this DLL as soon as I can get my hands on it. I loved the “evil-by-accident” quote. Does this mean that the DLL updates will be more infrequent to follow the ESRI update cycle?”

    “Congratulations Martin! Would be nice if every conflict between Super Powers could be solved so satisfactory as this one.”

    “Congratulations Martin 🙂 This is indeed a fantastic news. I am sure a compressor/optimizer for LAS 1.4 and that too in open source will be of great interest in LiDAR community.”

    “Good efforts, great outcome. You’re not one to take no for an answer that easily do you? 😉 Not just a joined forces compressor, but now also getting the spatial indexing embedded, great! I just hope this is not a very bad april fools joke :(”

    “Congrats! It finally happens. Your persistence is great – respect for that!” and then “Jesus! Certainly the best one [April Fools!] today!! And hopefully the most effective one as well!! Did you make sure that the ESRI guys get it as well?”

    “Well done, Martin, the joke and the aftermath too ! As a small “appreciation”, here is a LiDAR medal.”

    “GREAT NEWS! I am very glad that things worked out and your solution is both elegant and timely. I look forward to this collaborative effort and hope that Esri finally accepts that LiDAR data are an essential part of the GeoSpatial world and embrace the technology and work with the industry leaders rather than to try to blaze their own path.”

    “If it wasn’t a 1.april joke would be very cool … it’s not a joke, or?”

    “That sounds really good…I just hope April Fools Day has nothing to do with this announcement! :))”

    “Nice work Martin!”

    “Congratulations ! Good to know that ESRI finally recognized your excellent job with LAStools …”

    “Great News for the community”

    “Congratulations Martin and rapidlasso.”

    “Win-win. You fought a good fight :)” and then “April Fool´s Day ! Well, in my defense, I would like to say that I went all the way the home thinking about it: “Is it a joke ?” … Cheers, Martin!”

    “Great job, Martin!”

    “Well played Martin, well played!”

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