What Is the Difference Between Inspector 3.0 and Other 3D Modeling Software?

Wondering how Inspector 3.0 differs from other 3D modeling software? Read this article to find out.

Here at Flyability we just released Inspector 3.0, a new software that allows inspectors to create a sparse 3D model using the data they collect with the Elios 2 while flying regular inspection missions, without any special flight paths or data considerations required.

In these sparse point clouds, inspectors can pinpoint the location of defects they notice when reviewing their visual data.

So what is the difference between Inspector 3.0 and other 3D modeling software?

The short answer is that Inspector 3.0 uses robust processing to create sparse 3D models (also called point clouds) much more quickly and more inexpensively than the 3D models you can create with most other 3D modeling software.

Watch the video below to learn more about Inspector 3.0, and keep reading to learn about how it differs from other 3D modeling software.

Why would you want a sparse 3D model? 

While a regular 3D model is the kind of output you might create back at the office to include in a final report, Inspector 3.0’s sparse point cloud is an output you can use in the field to inform decision making in real time (processing time for Inspector 3.0 is 20-30 minutes on average).

Since the processing time for these sparse point clouds is so much shorter, they can serve the purpose of showing inspectors exactly where a defect is located within an asset while the inspector is still onsite.

[Related read: The Importance of Data Localization in the Inspection Business—and How Inspector 3.0 Can Help]

Also, the sparse 3D model can be made using a regular inspection flight, without the need for following a specific flight pattern for data collection as you would for creating a 3D model.


The locational information provided by Inspector 3.0 within these sparse point clouds can help inspectors determine where to focus their efforts within an asset, help scaffolders know where to set up scaffolding for the maintenance crew, or help the maintenance crew know where they need to work—all in a short period of time.

On the other hand, a regular 3D model typically requires pilots to follow a specific flight pattern and be trained in data collection for creating 3D models, more overall data, and processing times that are so long that the model typically can’t be used on the same day. 

Unpacking the answer

Let’s take a closer look at the answer provided above to the question about how Inspector 3.0 is different from other 3D modeling software.

In that answer, we said that the two main differences between Inspector 3.0 and other 3D modeling software are:

  • Inspector 3.0 makes point clouds more quickly
  • Inspector 3.0 makes point clouds more inexpensively

Now let’s go into more detail on each one of these points.

Inspector 3.0 makes point clouds more quickly

Most 3D modeling software requires several hours for processing. 

After you upload your data, the software will need to work for one to eight or more hours, depending on the amount of data you input and the robustness of the model you’re trying to achieve.

In comparison, Inspector 3.0 can create a sparse point cloud in 20-30 minutes (although processing could take up to an hour, depending on the amount of data input).

Further, Inspector 3.0 provides inspectors with a simple “one click” process for creating a 3D model, whereas photogrammetry can require a lot of fine tuning. 

Inspector 3.0 makes point clouds more inexpensively

Inspector 3.0 does not rely on data collected by more expensive sensors, such as LiDAR, to create its point clouds. 

Instead, it creates 3D models using only the visual data and inertial data already collected by the Elios 2. Further, Inspector 3.0 can create scaled 3D models, which isn’t possible with photogrammetry using only the data collected by the Elios 2.

Who is Inspector 3.0 for?

Inspector 3.0 was created specifically for inspectors. 


The sparse 3D models it creates and the data localization they contain are meant for industrial purposes—that is, for showing all the stakeholders involved in the maintenance process exactly where a defect is located within an asset.

[Case study: Inspector 3.0 Improves Paper Mill Tank Inspection by Pinpointing the Location of Rust and Pitting]

Inspector 3.0 lets inspectors:

  • Visualize data. Review video footage frame by frame and bookmark Points of Interest (POIs) within the footage.
  • Localize data. Locate these POIs in a sparse 3D model, providing a rough three dimensional representation of where defects (i.e., POIs) are located within an asset.
  • Document data. Document, classify, measure, and adjust POIs for reporting purposes, as well as overlay thermal data, as needed.

Unlike Inspector 3.0, a photogrammetric 3D model is meant to be extremely accurate and to combine visual features (i.e., texture) with 3D point clouds or 3D meshes. 

With a photogrammetric 3D model you can perform volumetric measurements and add Ground Control Points to improve the quality of your model in order to make it as close as possible to reality (this is what the phrase digital twin means—you are literally creating a twin digital copy of the real-life asset).

These kinds of 3D models might be used by a construction company that wants to show its client how much progress has been made on a project, or by a mining company that wants to look closely at an excavation in order to visualize the work that needs to be done to extract further ore.

In comparison, Inspector 3.0’s sparse 3D models are meant to be rough depictions of an asset used strictly for industrial purposes, not detailed or “pretty” models that fully illustrate what the object looks like in real life.

These sparse point clouds can be created with a one-click process and are fully integrated with the video stream, making them a quick, useful solution not just for inspectors, but for everyone involved in the maintenance process. 

Learn more about Inspector 3.0.




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