Emerging near-consumer-level technologies for 3D geomatics

Juho-Pekka Virtanen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


In geomatics, digital systems, smart devices and the Internet have altered the relationship between people and geospatial data, making it increasingly two-directional: in addition to utilizing geo-spatial data, citizens may also act as data producers. Additionally, technical developments have increased the detail level of virtual 3D environments, allowed distributing them via web browsers, and increased the measuring capabilities of smart consumer devices. This thesis approached the use of emerging near-consumer-level technologies, with the hypothesis that by developing processing methods and workflows, they could be applicable for 3D geomatics. The studied near-consumer technologies consisted of depth-camera-based 3D mapping, with a dedicated indoor mapping system (Matterport) and a smartphone with an integrated depth camera (Lenovo Phab2ProAR), 3D printing with a FDM machine (Ultimaker Kit BETA) and the use of a game engine (Unity 5) and collaborative virtual worlds (Meshmoon Rocket & Webrocket) for interactive 3D applications. A method was developed for producing virtual world scenes from open GIS assets, conserving the object information present in GIS objects. Indoor 3D mapping data was utilized in game engine, noting the processing steps required. The requirements for 3D content on the tested platforms were largely similar, as they were all based on game engine technology. For utilizing GIS data on these platforms, it was possible to largely automate the mesh generation. However, if 3D mapping data was used as a starting point, significant manual editing of the mesh models was needed. This was also true when using 3D mapping data with 3D printers. Both of the tested 3D mapping systems could operate reasonably in a suitable setting. The performance of the near-consumer-level 3D printer was limited by its inability to produce easily removable support structures. Within their performance limits, near-consumer-level 3D mapping systems can be applied for either taking measurements of individual objects, or by mapping entire environments. Compared with professional mapping systems, these technologies increase portability, reduce know-how requirements and allow the use of 3D mapping in new applications. Methods that permit game engine content production expand the applicability of 3D mapping technologies. In addition to utilizing 3D mapping technology to produce new data sets, benefits may result from wider utilization of existing data, such as GIS assets, on new application platforms, such as game engines, or by using 3D mapping data for 3D printing.
Translated title of the contributionKuluttajan lähellä olevat teknologiat 3D geomatiikassa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Vaaja, Matti Tapio, Supervising Professor
  • Haggren, Henrik, Supervising Professor
  • Hyyppä, Hannu, Thesis Advisor
  • Hyyppä, Juha, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8788-7
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8789-4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • 3D mapping
  • 3D printing
  • game engine
  • consumer technology


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