iSTAR 360 camera — one device, many applications.

At its core, iSTAR is a fully automated 360º imaging system.

However, thanks to its precision engineered construction and highly accurate optical calibration, it can be used for so much more..

iSTAR enables users to rapidly and fully automatically capture professional quality high dynamic range (HDR) 360º images in the most challenging lighting conditions, without any advanced photographic knowledge or experience. Stitching of the 360º images is also fully automated in NCTech’s Immersive Studio software.

The output images are simply ‘equirectangular’ *.jpg files which can be viewed on-screen in an immersive viewer to achieve the spherical viewing experience, or in a VR headset to give the full virtual experience of being ‘inside’ the scene. If desired, the stitched equirectangular *.jpg files can be modified in any photo editing software.

Individual spherical images are easily linked together in 3rd party virtual tour software to give viewers a walk-through or ‘Street View’ like experience, perfect for showcasing real-estate or heritage sites, visual documentation of industrial plant or construction sites, and also capturing crime or accident scenes for forensics and other emergency services needs.

iSTAR is the de facto standard external HDR camera for use with terrestrial laser scanners. For any terrestrial laser scanner operator who uses the colour capture function iSTAR will save significant time and money, in addition to providing all the image improvements of up to 9 exposure (27 EV) HDR imaging.

With iSTAR, a standard 5 exposure HDR image capture typically takes around 10–20 seconds. Comparing iSTAR speed to what can often be several minutes (in some cases over 10 minutes) for a lower dynamic range image from the laser scanner’s internal camera, such an increase of operator efficiency makes a compelling case for investment and rapid return on investment. Our customers frequently experience massive increases in productivity when using iSTAR.

The point cloud colourisation process is also fully automated. NCTech’s own ColourCloud software enables single or batches of E57 files to be automatically colourised by iSTAR image data. Using E57 files means iSTAR and ColourCloud are essentially ‘scanner neutral’. ColourCloud is also integrated into the following point cloud handling software, to enable colourisation directly within these platforms saving further time and money:

Leica Cyclone
Faro Scene
Veesus Arena4D
Aveva LFM

If your scanner or software of choice is not listed above then then please ask your supplier to simply integrate using our ColourCloud SDK. Some of our integrated partners completed this exercise in only a couple of days! Other scanners not directly integrated, but fully compatible with ColourCloud desktop software include: Trimble, Topcon, Z&F, Surphaser.

Automatic colourisation

16th Street Station, Oakland. Automatically created by ColourCloud using scans from the Leica P40 and Z+F 5010, and HDR colour from the iSTAR camera.

Using iSTAR with Leica Cyclone

Capturing HDR images and automatic colourisation of a laser scan using Cyclone.

The iSTAR camera benefits from precision calibration, enabling it to be used for high accuracy applications. One such example is the new NCTech Measurement Module which provides point-to-point measurement functionality, from within the iSTAR immersive 360° view, when a pair of images is captured with a known vertical offset.

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iSTAR measurement capture

iSTAR is engineered and calibrated for high precision applications such as laser scan colourisation and also photogrammetry, for both point cloud creation and also point to point ‘in image’ measurement.

iSTAR precision engineering and pixel calibration is beneficial for use with 3rd party software utilising structure-from-motion, or photogrammetry techniques to compute and create point clouds from multiple images.

iSTAR’s 360º capture means fewer shots are needed to cover the same area compared to regular frame cameras. HDR images also improve the ability to create points from areas which in single exposure imaging would be dark shadows or overexposed highlights.

Several third-party software packages are available on the market enabling this photo-to-pointcloud capability.
NCTech have tested and produced Application Notes for the following:

Agisoft Photoscan