Just across the Cumberland River from the Titans’ stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, sits a row of four-story, antebellum buildings that survived the fierce battle in late 1864 between the armies of Union General George Thomas and Confederate General John Bell Hood. Built of stone on the ground level and brick above, the buildings’ interiors have been changed many times over the last 160 years, but the exteriors remain much as they were built. They are historic buildings.

Suppose you wanted to create an elegant hotel out of these. The laws allow it, but if you must cut an opening in any exterior wall, you must replace the brickwork in exactly the same, special brick pattern used by masons before the Civil War.

Laser scanning to the rescue.

A full-color laser scan of the facades before construction will show the exact placement of each brick and stone. Taking a similar scan after construction and using computer software to compare the two scans will show the smallest deviation. This will speed approvals from the regulatory bodies. Moreover, the scans provide a precise historic record of any and all changes.

For most of human history, people have built new cities on top of older ones. When archaeologists work through such a site, they call the layers a stratigraphy. The locations of all the artifacts in all three dimensions are especially valuable to archaeologists.

Laser scanning to the rescue.

Repeated laser scanning as each layer of artifacts is exposed, combined with all prior scans, shows a complete, 3D virtual duplicate of the history of the site.

In 1783, missionaries built the San Xavier mission in the desert of southern Arizona. A few years ago, in order to assess the structural integrity of the building, engineers proposed drilling a number of holes all the way through the dome of the sanctuary in order to measure its thickness. (A dome changes in thickness from the apex to the base. Thinner at the top, thicker at the bottom.) Would you want to authorize drilling holes in this?

Laser scanning to the rescue.

By scanning both the interior and exterior of the dome, and by carefully aligning the scans to the same coordinate system, precise measurements of the thickness of the dome at all heights and angles were available.

Beyond building conservation, laser scanning has proven to be a valuable and unique tool for historians, archaeologists, paleontologists, and others seeking to understand or preserve the past.

Do you have questions about how this technology might be applied to your business or area of study? Give us a call or drop a line.