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The field of reality capture and building information modeling is evolving quickly. New terms are coined frequently and there are dozens of existing terms you may not know. We’ve compiled a glossary of important terms you may encounter as you explore the use of reality capture and conversion for your project.


3D laser scanning and 3D visualization solutions are higher quality and more efficient for the construction team. 3D technologies eliminate repeated trips to the project site with a tape measure and sketch pad to collect measurements.


The architecture, engineering, and construction industry that is served by specialists in reality capture. AEC players work together through an integrated project delivery process.


A computer-aided drafting (CAD) software application developed by Autodesk that enables AEC professionals to create two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) models.

As-Built Documents

As-builts can take a number of formats and contain a variety of information. Prior to embarking on a renovation project, some level of as-built documentation is required in a format most suitable for the AEC team working on the project. Additionally, as-builts are provided at the end of a new construction project and form the record drawings.


Building Information Modeling is an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure. BY AUTODESK

CFR Part 107

Code of Federal Regulations Part 107 governs the use of Drones (UAS or UAV) for commercial usage. It includes, but is not limited to: weight limits, time of flight operations, altitudes, speed, controlled airspace ops, and remote pilot in command duties.

Clash Detection (Trade Coordination)

A process that allows for the effective identification, inspection and reporting of interferences in a 3D project. When done correctly, clashes are identified and trades coordinated well in advance of construction, saving time and money.

Cloud Collaboration

A way of sharing and co-authoring files and information through the use of cloud computing. Practically speaking, this means web or mobile app based information that is accessible from any device, any place, and at any time, providing an internet connection is available. Cloud collaboration technologies allow users to share and collaborate in unprecedented ways.


The act of developing as-builts or other AEC deliverables in a CAD program. Typically drafting refers to 2D while modeling refers to 3D.

Drones | UAV | sUAS

Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can be used for recreational or commercial purposes. They can also be referred to as a sUAS or small unmanned aircraft system. Drones are federally regulated by the FAA through 14 CFR Part 107. Drones come in many different configurations, but are most commonly quadcopters or fixed wing. In the AEC industry, drones are configured to carry cameras and collect images that can produce 2D orthographic images as well as 3D meshes and point clouds through a methodology called photogrammetry.


High Definition Surveying (HDS) is synonymous with laser scanning. A specialized device that uses a laser to measure distance captures a very high density of points in 3D within a single scan. See laser scanning term for more information.

Laser Scanning

A 3D reality capture method that allows for incredibly accurate recreation of buildings and subjects in a digital medium. A specialized laser is used to take millions of measurements over a several minute individual scan. Many scans can be performed to capture all angles and items of importance, which are then combined through a process of registration. The combined results, or registration, of multiple scans creates a point cloud.

Long Range Scanning

Laser scanners are capable of capturing data within specified distance limits that depend on the type of equipment chosen. Today, the longest range scanners are rated for 300 meters or approximately 1000 feet. Accuracy and quality can diminish over long distances, therefore your objectives should be careful understood prior to relying on long range scanning results.


The act of creating a digital product in three dimensions (3D). Modeling is performed in a 3D software package, such as Autodesk Revit.


An aerial photograph or image geometrically corrected or “orthorectified” such that the scale is uniform, giving the photo the same lack of distortion as a map. Spatial Acuity’s Orthophotos are geo-located and can be scaled allowing measurement and insertion into CAD or Revit. Accuracy depends on several factors, but a GPS controlled Orthophoto can typically achieve a horizontal accuracy of 2-5cm (1-2 inches) and a vertical accuracy of 4-8cm (2-4 inches).


The processing of multiple overlapping photographs of an object, space, or landscape that are stitched together to create a 3D model. In drone mapping photogrammetry is used to create single high-resolution orthographic images of large multi-acre areas.

Point Cloud

The shape of the laser-scanned object appears as millions of points called a point cloud on the computer monitor as the laser moves around capturing the entire surface shape of the object within a building.


A building information modeling software by Autodesk, which allows users to design a building and structure and its components in 3D, annotate the model with 2D drafting elements, and access building information from the building model's database.

RVT Level of Development (LOD)

Level of Development (LOD) Specification is a reference that allows one to specify and articulate with a high level of clarity the content and reliability of Building Information Models (BIMs) at various stages in the design and construction process. LOD is expressed as a numeric value of 100-500. Click here for our blog on Level of Development.

Reality Capture

The process of scanning or photographing an object, building, or site and producing a digital likeness in the form of a 3D point cloud or mesh. Reality capture methods include laser scanning and photogrammetry, each of which cater to specific project objectives.

Reality Conversion

The process of turning the reality capture results, a point cloud or mesh, into an AutoCAD or Revit deliverable.


The process of laser scanning an object or building and converting it into a 2D CAD deliverable per the agreed scope.


The process of laser scanning an object or building and converting it into a 3D Revit deliverable per the agreed scope.