iSTAR 360 camera — one device, many applications.

At its core, iSTAR is a fully automated 360º imaging system.

However, thanks to its precision engineered construction and highly accurate optical calibration, it can be used for so much more..

iSTAR enables users to rapid­ly and ful­ly auto­mat­i­cal­ly cap­ture pro­fes­sion­al qual­i­ty high dynam­ic range (HDR) 360º images in the most chal­leng­ing light­ing con­di­tions, with­out any advanced pho­to­graph­ic knowl­edge or expe­ri­ence. Stitch­ing of the 360º images is also ful­ly auto­mat­ed in NCTech’s Immer­sive Stu­dio soft­ware.

The out­put images are sim­ply ‘equirec­tan­gu­lar’ *.jpg files which can be viewed on-screen in an immer­sive view­er to achieve the spher­i­cal view­ing expe­ri­ence, or in a VR head­set to give the full vir­tu­al expe­ri­ence of being ‘inside’ the scene. If desired, the stitched equirec­tan­gu­lar *.jpg files can be mod­i­fied in any pho­to edit­ing soft­ware.

Indi­vid­ual spher­i­cal images are eas­i­ly linked togeth­er in 3rd par­ty vir­tu­al tour soft­ware to give view­ers a walk-through or ‘Street View’ like expe­ri­ence, per­fect for show­cas­ing real-estate or her­itage sites, visu­al doc­u­men­ta­tion of indus­tri­al plant or con­struc­tion sites, and also cap­tur­ing crime or acci­dent scenes for foren­sics and oth­er emer­gency ser­vices needs.

iSTAR is the de fac­to stan­dard exter­nal HDR cam­era for use with ter­res­tri­al laser scan­ners. For any ter­res­tri­al laser scan­ner oper­a­tor who uses the colour cap­ture func­tion iSTAR will save sig­nif­i­cant time and mon­ey, in addi­tion to pro­vid­ing all the image improve­ments of up to 9 expo­sure (27 EV) HDR imag­ing.

With iSTAR, a stan­dard 5 expo­sure HDR image cap­ture typ­i­cal­ly takes around 10–20 sec­onds. Com­par­ing iSTAR speed to what can often be sev­er­al min­utes (in some cas­es over 10 min­utes) for a low­er dynam­ic range image from the laser scanner’s inter­nal cam­era, such an increase of oper­a­tor effi­cien­cy makes a com­pelling case for invest­ment and rapid return on invest­ment. Our cus­tomers fre­quent­ly expe­ri­ence mas­sive increas­es in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty when using iSTAR.

The point cloud colouri­sa­tion process is also ful­ly auto­mat­ed. NCTech’s own Colour­Cloud soft­ware enables sin­gle or batch­es of E57 files to be auto­mat­i­cal­ly colourised by iSTAR image data. Using E57 files means iSTAR and Colour­Cloud are essen­tial­ly ‘scan­ner neu­tral’. Colour­Cloud is also inte­grat­ed into the fol­low­ing point cloud han­dling soft­ware, to enable colouri­sa­tion direct­ly with­in these plat­forms sav­ing fur­ther time and mon­ey:

Leica Cyclone
Faro Scene
Veesus Arena4D
Ave­va LFM

If your scan­ner or soft­ware of choice is not list­ed above then then please ask your sup­pli­er to sim­ply inte­grate using our Colour­Cloud SDK. Some of our inte­grat­ed part­ners com­plet­ed this exer­cise in only a cou­ple of days! Oth­er scan­ners not direct­ly inte­grat­ed, but ful­ly com­pat­i­ble with Colour­Cloud desk­top soft­ware include: Trim­ble, Top­con, Z&F, Sur­phas­er.

Automatic colourisation

16th Street Sta­tion, Oak­land. Auto­mat­i­cal­ly cre­at­ed by Colour­Cloud using scans from the Leica P40 and Z+F 5010, and HDR colour from the iSTAR cam­era.

Using iSTAR with Leica Cyclone

Cap­tur­ing HDR images and auto­mat­ic colouri­sa­tion of a laser scan using Cyclone.

The iSTAR cam­era ben­e­fits from pre­ci­sion cal­i­bra­tion, enabling it to be used for high accu­ra­cy appli­ca­tions. One such exam­ple is the new NCTech Mea­sure­ment Mod­ule which pro­vides point-to-point mea­sure­ment func­tion­al­i­ty, from with­in the iSTAR immer­sive 360° view, when a pair of images is cap­tured with a known ver­ti­cal off­set.

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iSTAR measurement capture

iSTAR is engi­neered and cal­i­brat­ed for high pre­ci­sion appli­ca­tions such as laser scan colouri­sa­tion and also pho­togram­me­try, for both point cloud cre­ation and also point to point ‘in image’ mea­sure­ment.

iSTAR pre­ci­sion engi­neer­ing and pix­el cal­i­bra­tion is ben­e­fi­cial for use with 3rd par­ty soft­ware util­is­ing struc­ture-from-motion, or pho­togram­me­try tech­niques to com­pute and cre­ate point clouds from mul­ti­ple images.

iSTAR’s 360º cap­ture means few­er shots are need­ed to cov­er the same area com­pared to reg­u­lar frame cam­eras. HDR images also improve the abil­i­ty to cre­ate points from areas which in sin­gle expo­sure imag­ing would be dark shad­ows or over­ex­posed high­lights.

Sev­er­al third-par­ty soft­ware pack­ages are avail­able on the mar­ket enabling this pho­to-to-point­cloud capa­bil­i­ty.
NCTech have test­ed and pro­duced Appli­ca­tion Notes for the fol­low­ing:

Agisoft Pho­to­scan