The latest 3D visualization techniques are pretty impressive, too.

We’ve written before  about the increasing intrusion of gaming technology into the geospatial realm, but in the past couple days I’ve become aware of 3 different developments that make me wonder if the days before technology born in the entertainment realm is playing a significant daily role in the lives of geospatial professionals are few indeed.

Gene Roe of LiDAR News alerted me to “Conform” by GameSim. A gaming company with a booth at GeoINT should be enough to raise eyebrows, but with a DTED importer too! What is the world coming to!  But the key technology they are claiming to have is super-fast rendering of point clouds.

And just this weekend I learned of “GeoVerse” by Euclidean (and the ensuing fiery discussions on Reddit) and the now-removed-comments on YouTube.  Extremely impressive demo, but I wasn’t sure how to calibrate it until I bumped into a customer of ours at GeoAlberta who turned out to have worked in Australia recently and has become a distributor of the product. He’s a believer, he’s seen it, and he thinks it is game changing for his work and for his clients. I have no reason to doubt him.

Lastly, it seems that Minecraft is also making the geospatial news on a more frequent basis all the time.  We had our friends in Norway,  a while back @ulfme hung-out with James Fee and showed some amazing things, and then yesterday this news from the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain broke: Minecraft game adds Ordnance Survey GB terrain data.  So now we have Norway and Britain in Minecraft. Can Canada be far behind?

So what do these all have in common?  Technology developed for producing simulations for the demanding gaming crowd is being force-fed a diet of data from the “real” world.  The result – something extremely useful for both geospatial folks wondering how to cope with the volumes of data coming at them from modern sensors, as well as decision makers in general wanting easy ways of understanding their world better.

Is it only a matter of time before we see some of this technology finding its way into mainstream, traditional GIS products?


Bill Murray Reacts to the News of Gaming Companies Building DTED Importers:



3D About Data DTED Featured Minecraft Point Clouds

Dale Lutz

Dale is the co-founder and VP of Development at Safe Software. After starting his career working spatial data (ranging from icebergs to forest stands) for many years, he and other co-founder, Don Murray, realized the need for a data integration platform like FME. His favourite TV show is Star Trek, which inspired the names for most of the meeting rooms and common areas in the Safe Software office. Dale is always looking to learn more about the data industry and FME users. Find him on Twitter to learn more about what his recent discoveries are!


4 Responses to “Let the Games Begin”

  1. Bob says:

    Check out Geoweb3d – a company from the simulation industry that can load all of the native GIS formats including LIDAR and video. Booth 814 at GEOINT.

  2. Dale says:

    Hi Bob, cool stuff you’re up to (but “all the native GIS formats” is a very bold claim!). We’ll be at GEOINT too — Booth 1333 — so we’ll definitely have to connect.

  3. Kevin Bigam says:

    When I first came across Euclideon’s software it seemed too good to be true. Too often LiDAR point cloud data has proven to be the ultimate expression of Moore’s Law with the datasets growing exponentially and technically no way to view the entire point clouds that resulted from the scans. Increased scanner accuracy – means increased size of the datasets – means increased problems viewing the data. When we worked with LiDAR data, We did what everyone else did. Either you focus on pieces of the dataset or you interpolate the data as a TIN to view the bare earth model. Thereby in essence converting point clouds into polygons to view the overall data. And In the process loosing some of visual the information that point clouds are able to deliver when we want to make decisions about the real world the data represents.

    When we invited Euclideon to our offices we did everything we could to break the software. To test it we autocorrelated a point cloud from aerial imagery that was 10km wide by 400km long, creating a dataset that was 1.4TB and in excess of 44 billion points. Converted to the Geoverse format, the entire dataset now opens on my laptop in less than 5 seconds.

    Now we dont only use the LiDAR data in our work, we have started to model projects before they are created. Turning transmission line towers and the engineered power lines into point clouds. Inside the Geoverse dataset we can view the world as it will be when our projects are completed. In essence we are starting the process of gaming the engineering process. And bringing Geoverse back to its gaming roots. You can see more of this on our website at

    • Dale says:

      Thanks Kevin, the technology does sound amazing and many will believe it “too good to be true”, but it sounds like seeing is believing. Looking forward to taking you up on the offer for a demo. All the best.

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