LIDAR is a complex data collection technology that uses a beam of near-infrared laser light to gather object and surface details for estimation of the target’s distance from the sensor and height and landscape elevation. The flight of this light illuminated from the LIDAR sensor and the constant speed of light in air is used to calculate target object attributes.
The object datasets collected using the LIDAR system contain point cloud details of both the X, Y, and Z coordinates of objects of interest. LIDAR data won’t be of any use without being processed. Complex processing software is needed in the analysis and interpretation of these datasets. This analysis process can be enabled by open-source LIDAR viewers, which this article intends to explore.
FugroViewer boasts of its simplicity in usage and capability to process a large distribution of datasets. The need for a LIDAR viewer that can accommodate an array of data from various sources and different fields is what gave rise to the development of FugroViewer. This LIDAR viewer has an incredibly user-friendly interface that enables users to use and navigate around it with a lot of ease. FugroViewer doesn’t require any special skills to use it.
- Open Topography
Open Topography is another phenomenal open-source LIDAR viewer that users can register and upload their data for processing. It’s more of a community system where there is a collaboration of users, and the data uploaded can be accessed by everyone on the platform.
- BCAL LIDAR viewer
BCAL LIDAR viewer is another free LIDAR viewer that possesses the capability to analyze and interpret LIDAR data. Boise Center Aerospace Laboratory designed this open-source LIDAR viewer.
With FUSION, you can upload, analyze, and interpret the LIDAR data provided. You can also convert and merge 3D data cloud points and 2D datasets collected from various geographical terrains. FUSION allows its users to process LIDAR datasets to produce accurate models of landscapes and forest elevation.
- USGS Earth Explorer
USGS Earth Explorer is another LIDAR viewer on the list of open sources. This source has a phenomenal user interface that is easy to navigate and manipulate during LIDAR dataset processing. The level of flexibility in filtering dataset searches is astounding.
Moreover, LASTools is a free LIDAR viewer that is a product of integrated tools designed to sort, analyze, and display LIDAR data to obtain meaningful information. One of the strengths of LASTools LIDAR viewer is its ability to be integrated with Graphical User Interface.
- Online LIDAR Viewer
This free LIDAR Viewer prides itself on simplicity in the analysis and interpretation of LIDAR data. Its user-friendly interface doesn’t require any special skills to navigate, manipulate, and process LIDAR data. This LIDAR Viewer is entirely free and can be accessed for casual personal use.
MCC-LIDAR finds its application in forest management for processing and interpretation of LIDAR data. The LIDAR data sorted by this software is either ground or non-ground. Unlike other user-friendly applications, this software requires some expertise in programming for processing LIDAR data.
The bottom line
To conclude, the LIDAR system uses special sensors for laser light transmission towards target objects to collect scene information. The time of flight of this pulse and light of light is used to estimate objects’ distance from the light source. The process of data gathering using LIDAR results in 3D datasets that require complex tools to process.
The availability of open-source tools for LIDAR data processing has made the process of analysis and interpretation of LIDAR data sleek and inexpensive. Examples of free LIDAR viewers include FugroViewer, Open Topography, FUSION, et cetera.