Conference paper Open Access

Taming the beast: Free and open-source massive point cloud web visualization

Oscar Martinez-Rubi; Stefan Verhoeven; Maarten van Meersbergen; Markus Schutz; Peter van Oosterom; Romulo Goncalves; Theo Tijssen

Powered by WebGL, some renderers have recently become available for the visualization of point cloud data over the web, for example Plasio or Potree. We have extended Potree to be able to visualize massive point clouds and we have successfully used it with the second national Lidar survey of the Netherlands, AHN2, with 640 billion points. In addition to the visualization, the publicly available service at http://ahn2.pointclouds.nl/ also features a multi-resolution download tool, a geographic name search bar, a measurement toolkit, a 2D orientation map with field of view depiction, a demo mode and the tuning of the visualization parameters. Potree relies on reorganizing the point cloud data into an multi-resolution octree data structure. However, this reorganization is very time consuming for massive data sets. Hence, we have used a divide and conquer approach to decrease the octree creation time. To achieve such performance improvement we divided the entire space into smaller cells, generated an octree for each of them in a distributed manner and then we merged them into a single massive octree. The merging is possible because the extent of all the nodes of the octrees is known and fixed. All the developed tools are free and open-source (FOSS) and they can be used to visualize over the web other massive point clouds.

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