Traditional 3D models made up of surfaces have for a long time aided us in visualizing buildings and spaces, but they often come at a cost: large models require a lot of storage and processing power, and can become incredibly complex to the point where they are difficult to navigate. As a part of our Selected by Sketchfab series, Sketchfab has their eye on a more efficient, increasingly common method of capturing architectural spaces; namely, point clouds. Point clouds are made up of a set of points located in a three-dimensional coordinate system, that when put together merely give an impression of the surface of an object, or the façade of a building.
The method is fairly simple. The collection of data points is generated by a 3D scanner that rotates while emitting a laser that measures the distance to points on surrounding surfaces. This data can then be converted into a polygonal model that can be rendered like any other 3D model. However, the advantages of keeping the scan in point form are what makes it great; the file sizes are much smaller, and the porosity of the point clouds make it possible to see through walls and surfaces, accessing "hidden" spaces and uncommon views of seemingly familiar surroundings. Read on to find out more about the possibilities and advantages that come with point cloud modelling.