Warming up for ILMF 2014, rapidlasso puts lean yet plush “LASlayers” on LiDAR

PRESS RELEASE
February 14, 2014
rapidlasso GmbH, Gilching, Germany

As a sweet foretaste to ILMF 2014, the creators of LAStoolsLASzip, and PulseWaves are announcing “LASlayers” already on Valentine’s Day. The new functionality nicely complements their popular and widely-used LiDAR compressor making the compressed LAZ files editable for most practical purposes. LASlayers significantly reduce I/O load for writing modification to LAS or LAZ files, especially when batch-processing LiDAR tiles on many cores in parallel or when sending changes to LiDAR files across bandwidth-limited networks.

Conceptually LASlayers add

LASlayers store modifications and additional  attributes to raw LAS or LAZ files in small LAY files avoiding to replicate data that has not changed.

Most point attributes (e.g. coordinates, intensities, scan angles, GPS times, etc.) are not modified when processing LiDAR. LASlayers avoids re-writing the unchanged portions of LAS or LAZ by storing only the actual differences layer by layer to a new “LAY” file. Changing the point classifications or deleting a few points, for example, can be done with LAY files that are just a tiny fraction of the size of a new LAS or LAZ file. Adding new attributes such as RGB colors or the height-above-ground with LASlayers means only this new information needs to be written.

This also provides simultaneous access to different versions of the data: a LiDAR server or a Web portal can store only a single copy of the raw LiDAR and apply LASlayers as needed on-the-fly, for example, to replace ellipsoidal with orthometric elevations or to add RGB colors.

Even users of other LiDAR processing software can readily take advantage of LASlayers with the new “laslayers.exe” tool that computes the difference between a raw and a modified LAS or LAZ file and expresses it as a LAY file (assuming the point order has not changed). A typical use case is the exchange of modifications to LiDAR files between remote locations such as a vendor in Australia or Canada and a data processing center in China or India. Instead of up- and downloading the entire modified LAS or LAZ files, only the much smaller LAY files need to be send back and forth.

A fully featured prototype of LASlayers is available (10 MB including data) together with three simple exercises that illustrate the concept and allow interested parties to test it already today on their own data.

Call for Input on Compression of LAS 1.4

PRESS RELEASE
January 21, 2014
rapidlasso GmbH, Gilching, Germany

The creators of the widely-used open source LiDAR compressor LASzip are issuing a “Call for Input” for extending the popular LAZ format to the new point types 6 to 10 that were introduced with the LAS 1.4 specification. Their LiDAR technology company rapidlasso GmbH invites all interested parties to “The LAS room” for an open discussion: “As LAZ has gained significant traction in the community we want to involve stakeholders across industry, academia, and government,” so Dr. Martin Isenburg, founder of rapidlasso GmbH.

Recent conversations with large agencies suggest that LAS 1.4 is not yet being tendered and that there are no significant LAS 1.4 holdings. “So we have some time,” says Dr. Isenburg, “No need to rush and put out a half-baked solution. I have the feeling LAS 1.4 will stay with us for a while, so we better get it right.”

The LASzip compression scheme will not change for LAS 1.X files that only contain point types 0 to 5 to guarantee “forward-compatibility” with older, already existing LAZ readers. “The new point types,” so Dr. Isenburg, “provide a unique opportunity to enhance the compression scheme further.”

Apart from the improvements mentioned in the LASzip journal paper, one change worth discussing is whether to encode GPS time stamps, RGBI colors, and WavePackets separately from other point attributes to allow selective reading of compressed files. Plain visualization, for example, does not need GPS time information. Another consideration is (optional) spatial indexing using LASindex. The new concept of “Appended VLRs” in LAS 1.4 allows appending the tiny LAX files of LASindex to the end of a LAZ file.

Dr. Isenburg asks especially those who do not yet use LAZ (for technical reasons) to join “The LAS room” and contribute suggestions: “Let’s make LASzip with LAS 1.4 support not only a better LAZ, but also your LAZ.”

LAX files contain a quadtree to describe which parts of a file have to be loaded to get all points within an area of interest

The LAX files of LASindex contain a quadtree that describes which parts of the file need to be loaded to get all points within an area of interest.

rapidlasso selects LIDAR Technology Co. as first LAStools reseller

PRESS RELEASE
October 7, 2013
rapidlasso GmbH, Gilching, Germany

Just in time for INTERGEO 2013, the creators of LAStools and LASzip have partnered with LIDAR Technology Co., Ltd. of Zhubei City, Taiwan as their first exclusive reseller for the Taiwanese market. The two companies decided to strengthen their ties after holding a successful LiDAR processing workshop together with over 60 attendees following the International Symposium on Mobile Mapping Technologies (MMT 2013) in Tainan City last May. “We were looking for a partner with a strong technical mindset who is committed to capacity building,” says Dr. Martin Isenburg, founder of rapidlasso GmbH, “and LIDAR Technology Co., Ltd. is investing in R&D – including full waveform LiDAR – and has strong ties to academia. We couldn’t have found a better collaborator.” Dr. “James” Jin-King Liu, the CEO of LIDAR Technology Co., Ltd. concurs “our companies are a great match. LAStools is already widely popular in Taiwan, yet to employ them to their fullest potential can require some guidance. Our company has the technical expertise to provide this kind of support locally.”

About rapidlasso GmbH:

Technology start-up rapidlasso GmbH specializes in efficient LiDAR processing tools that are widely known for their high productivity. They combine robust algorithms with efficient I/O and clever memory management to achieve high throughput for data sets containing billions of points. The company’s flagship product – the LAStools software suite – has deep market penetration and is heavily used in industry, government agencies, research labs, and educational institutions. Visit http://rapidlasso.com for more information.

About LIDAR Technology Co., Ltd.:

LIDAR Technology Co., Ltd. was founded in 2010 out of the airborne LiDAR team of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), a National Laboratory in Taiwan. Their primary business is research, development, and application of earth observation, geoinformatics, and location-based services. LIDAR Technology Co., Ltd. performs acquisition, handling, and analysis of space-borne and airborne data with a focus on LiDAR, including full waveform, for which the company has developed own specialized solutions for their customers. Types of applications include mineral resources, geological mapping, geo-hazards studies, land-use and land-cover mapping, coastal zone mapping, forestry mapping, …  visit http://www.lidar.com.tw for more information.

With CEO "James" Jin-King Liu and CFO Ian Hsu in front of the office of LIDAR Technology Co., Ltd.

With CEO “James” Jin-King Liu and General Manager Ian Hsu in front of the office of LIDAR Technology Co., Ltd.

rapidlasso adds LAStools LiDAR processing toolbox to QGIS

PRESS RELEASE
September 30, 2013
rapidlasso GmbH, Gilching, Germany

At the code sprint following the FOSS4G 2013 conference, rapidlasso GmbH completed a toolbox that exposes the extensive LiDAR processing capabilities of the LAStools software suite within QGIS. QGIS (previously known as “Quantum GIS”) is a comprehensive desktop geographic information system that is free and open source software (FOSS). QGIS has seen rapid growth in acceptance as a viable and cost-effective alternative to the commerical ArcGIS products of ESRI. The newly integrated “Processing” framework (previously known as “SEXTANTE“) allows to combine the LiDAR functionality of LAStools with native raster and vector operations of QGIS as well as capabilities of other popular GIS packages such as GDALGRASS, SAGA, TauDEM, PostGIS and the (geo-)statistics package R. Detailed instructions on how to add the new LAStools toolbox to QGIS are available here.

About rapidlasso GmbH:
Technology start-up rapidlasso GmbH specializes in efficient LiDAR processing tools that are widely known for their high productivity. They combine robust algorithms with efficient I/O and clever memory management to achieve high throughput for data sets containing billions of points. The company’s flagship product – the LAStools software suite – has deep market penetration and is heavily used in industry, government agencies, research labs, and educational institutions. Visit http://rapidlasso.com for more information.