This isn’t exactly new news, but it was to me. Today I found out we’ve made a very useful component, the Autodesk Reality Solutions SDK, available to the public. This is a C++ library that allows you to read and write Autodesk’s RCP and RCS formats, as well as to create custom plugins for new point cloud definition formats. ADN members can log in today and download the SDK and accompanying samples. Non-members can send an email and get access to it that way.
There’s a particular reason I find this to be important news: it will enable developers to automate the importing of point clouds generated by external systems into AutoCAD. There was a time – from AutoCAD 2011 to 2014, if memory serves me correctly – when it was possible to automate the indexing of a text file containing a series of points, whether created by transcribing data read from Kinect, or perhaps taking points extracted from Photosynth (going back to a time before the availability of ReCap Photo, of course). You could simply call AutoCAD’s POINTCLOUDINDEX command, which would take an XYZ file and spit out a PCG that you could attach inside AutoCAD. AutoCAD 2015 moved to RCP and RCS for its core point cloud representation format, at which time the POINTCLOUDINDEX command disappeared, effectively breaking this automation process. You could still import XYZ files into ReCap Studio and then save out an RCP or RCS, but this was a manual step. There was no more one-click import from Kinect Fusion.
That should change, now, which is great news. I haven’t gone and tried using the SDK to do this, as yet: I’ve just taken a look at the documentation to get a sense of how it works. In theory you should be able to build a simple executable that takes input parameters for the filenames to read from and write to, and it will go ahead and generate the converted RCP or RCS file. I don’t know whether it can take XYZ files directly or whether we’ll have to pass by LAS (which can be created by the TXT2LAS.exe utility). It’ll then be very simple to call this from your .NET code as part of the process to import point clouds into AutoCAD.
That’s the theory, anyway: at some point I’ll take the time to give it a try and get the Kinect samples working properly again with more recent versions of AutoCAD. I’ll be sure to post the results here, of course.
I’m wrapping up a really interesting few days spent at Rob|Arch 2018 at ETH Zurich. I’ll post a summary of this fascinating conference sometime next week.